Officials hold online discussion on food safety
HA NOI - (VNS) The concerns of consumers over contaminated food were understandable, but the amount of contaminated food has not increased and not all contaminated food was harmful, said Nguyen Nhu Tiep, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, in an online discussion on food safety on the Government web portal yesterday.
In 2009, 6.4 per cent of fruit contained an excessive amount of pesticides, while in 2011 that number declined to 4.43 per cent, according to ministry data. As for meat, 29.4 per cent was contaminated in 2009, and this number remained virtually unchanged in 2011. Aquaculture numbers remained the lowest, hovering around 1 per cent.
But poultry and red meat contaminated with bacteria - which accounted for 27-30 per cent of the samples tested - could be safe when cooked properly, he said.
In reply to questions on South Korean-imported chicken sold at BigC Supermarket, which is usually used for animal feed processing, Nguyen Thai Dung, deputy director of the supermarket, affirmed that the supermarket had sent samples for testing.
Currently, the supermarket has stopped selling these products.
"The supermarket maintains strict supervision over production lines and distribution. Products are selected randomly for chemical tests to make sure they meet hygiene and safety requirements," Dung said, adding that this chicken had all the required legal documents such as quality and import certificates.
As for imported fruits with insufficient labelling, Nguyen Thanh Phong, head of the Ministry of Health's Food Hygiene and Safety Department, said only tests for banned chemicals and excessive amounts of chemicals could tell whether fruits were toxic.
Tiep, director of the Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, said the ministry has recently issued a circular to strengthen controls on imported food. Export countries must list all the chemicals they used during the cultivation process, and products would be inspected both at border gates and plant quarantine stations.
Currently, about 11 countries meet the new import requirements, including China and Laos. About 14 of 58 fruit samples collected from markets were found to contain excessive amounts of pesticides, including oranges, grapes, potatoes and plums. The department would conduct more thorough inspections of these fruits in the future, he said.
Phong also said recent rumours about leeches in milk and fake rice had resulted in big losses for farmers and producers, even though these products had not yet been inspected.
"All tests showed that those samples were fine," he said.
The Government has also issued policies to support entrepreneurs, helping them build better facilities and training technical staff on how to produce clean food. The Law on Food Hygiene and Safety would better solve this problem.
Figures from the Food Hygiene and Safety Department show that there were 10 cases of food poisoning in the first four months of this year, killing four and leaving 720 hospitalised.
Most of the cases involved food contaminated with bacteria. — VNS