HA NOI — The Food Safety and Hygiene Department will increase inspection over the use of spices containing cancer-causing agent Rhoda-mineB in food production, said head of department Nguyen Cong Khan.
The move follows the recent discovery of the use of RhodamineB in producing chilli powder by a private company in northern Hai Duong Province's Cam Giang Commune.
Inspectors took two samples of chilli powder produced by the enterprise for testing and results from the National Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene Test showed both samples contained RhodamineB.
Health inspectors sealed around 300kg of chilli powder found to contain RhodamineB and 10 tonnes of chilli powder found to not meet food hygiene and safety standards.
RhodamineB is used by the textile industry to dye clothes and as a colouring additive in drugs and cosmetics, but is banned as a food colorant.
Health experts warned the substance was very dangerous if inhaled or swallowed, causing irritation to the respiratory system, skin irritation, irritation of the digestive tract and a risk of cancer.
Last year, health inspectors found samples of dried melon seeds in the market containing RhodamineB.
More than 1,200 tonnes of the 192,000 tonnes of food additives imported into Viet Nam over the past three years were returned for not meeting food safety and hygiene standards.
The health ministry has set up 12 teams to inspect food safety and hygiene in a number of areas ahead of the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival and discovered hundreds of samples of food products violating regulations. Inspections began in early December last year and will finish at the end of this month.
In 2001, health inspectors inspected food hygiene and safety at nearly 102,000 food production establishments and fined 27 per cent of them with a total of around VND7.6 billion (US$364,800).
The ministry reported 142 cases of food poisoning last year. — VNS