HA NOI — The Ministry of Public Security has requested that the Government establish a legal framework that would allow environmental police to prosecute food safety violations more effectively.
The request was made at yesterday's online conference chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan to discuss food safety issues with authorities and relevant agencies from all the 63 provinces and cities.
Tran Trong Binh, deputy head of the Environmental Police Department under the Public Security Ministry, said it had been difficult to start legal procedures against those accused of using prohibited substances.
Speaking at the meeting, Nhan said efforts would be made this year to raise awareness nationwide and encourage people to stop growing unsafe vegetables, buying prohibited additives and patronising substandard slaughterhouses.
Relevant agencies must also monitor food safety at public kitchens in industrial zones by increasing inspections to prevent large-scale food poisoning.
He suggested there should be an index that ranks localities on a scale of food safety. In addition, the Health and Agriculture and Rural Development ministries should produce a list of prohibited substances for use in food and livestock breeding.
At the meeting, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said that food safety steering committees in many provinces and cities had not worked closely enough with localities.
Nhan also asked the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Information and Communications to issue a circular with guidelines for reporters and media organisations, so that they might be held accountable if they provide false information related to food safety.
Six modern abattoirs with the capacity to slaughter 300-500 animals per hour have suspended operations and shifted back to unhygienic, traditional practices due to a lack of support from the public for safe meat.
The capital's Agriculture and Rural Development Department issued a report on Wednesday saying that modern abattoirs cost much more than slaughterhouses and that consumers preferred fresh meat from traditional establishments to preserved meat.
"Up to 80 per cent of consumers say they eat meat products that have not been quarantined from veterinary," said Nguyen Huy Dang, deputy director of the department.
The public seemed to "support" substandard slaughtering practices by continuing to buy the meat, he said.
The department's statistics show that up to 444 small traditional slaughterhouses are operating city-wide.
Can Van Binh, head of the municipal Animal Health Division, said that the traditional abattoirs failed to ensure food safety and hygiene standards.
According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Thi Xuan Thu, it is imperative to conduct a large-scale inspection in the city to bring the situation under control. — VNS