HCM CITY (VNS) — HCM City Health Department officials have urged consumers to buy products with clear origin sold at clean and hygienic trading places to ensure food safety.
Speaking at a seminar on “For a safe food market” in HCM City last Saturday, Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, deputy head of the department’s Food Safety and Hygiene Division, said consumers should report to authorised agencies any selling place with unsafe products or those with unclear origin.
Mai said the use of banned chemicals and additives in animal breeding and foods and the overuse of plant protection chemicals in agricultural cultivation remained high, seriously affecting consumers’ health.
In addition, poor quality products caused by improper production, preservation and transportation have also affected consumers, she said.
Nguyễn Thành Danh, deputy head of the Bình Dương Province Market Watch Department, said overlapping regulations and a shortage of human resources made it difficult to protect consumer safety.
Danh said sanctions applied to food safety violations were not strong enough to prevent violators from repeating the offence.
Consumers are still afraid to file complaints and lawsuits when their rights are violated, he said at the seminar organised by Người Tiêu Dùng (Consumers) newspaper.
Mai said the city had made efforts to ensure food safety for consumers.
Relevant authorities each day have sent staff to the city’s three wholesale markets to take goods samples for testing quality.
“We have managed about 70-80 per cent of products transported from other localities to the city market,” she said.
The city has also implemented a pilot programme on a food safety chain model, with more than 300 safe-food selling points, she said. But the model has met only 10-15 per cent of customer demand.
According to the Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Protection Association (VINASTAS), many surveys in the health sector pointed out that the number of people with cancer has increased strongly, from 69,000 cases in 2000 to 150,000 last year, and is expected to reach 200,000 cases in 2020.
VINASTAS said that according to the Việt Nam Cancer Association, the increase in cancer cases is believed to originate from the use of unsafe food, environmental pollution and higher longevity, with the food factor accounting for 35 per cent.
To protect consumer rights, Danh said the Government should regularly adjust the legal framework on consumer rights protection and food safety to make it more feasible and practical.
Agencies, organisations and consumer protection associations should raise awareness about protecting consumers rights as well as help consumers differentiate between genuine and fake, sub-standard and unsafe products, he said.
He said that agencies should offer intensive training for market management staff and provide them with more equipment, including quick food-test kits.
Delegates at the seminar asked the Government to impose stricter sanctions on food safety violations and strength inspection of the trade of harmful chemicals.— VNS