HCM CITY (VNS)— The risk of food poisoning at company canteens nationwide remains high, even though authorities claim it is under control.
A report from the Ministry of Health said that from 2007 to 2012 more than 8,000 people had contracted food poisoning in 88 incidents, and more than 7,500 had been hospitalised.
Health agencies and offices across the country have been working with companies to control the increasing number of food poisoning cases, the ministry said.
Confirmation of sanitary conditions at canteens, however, appears to be fragile, as it is not easy to ensure food origin and preservation, the main causes of food poisoning at the canteens.
An expert from the Ministry of Health, speaking to Viet Nam News on the condition of anonymity, said that food poisoning cases had occurred because canteens were using food that did not meet specific requirements, such as label of origin and hygienic standards.
These food products usually begin to spoil during processing, preserving and transport, the ministry expert said.
"The trend of having meals at canteens is becoming more popular. Meanwhile, food for these meals comes from many places, so it is very difficult to control its origin," he told Viet Nam News.
Le Thi Minh Trang from the wholesaler Metro Cash & Carry Viet Nam agreed with the ministry official's assessment, saying that "many traders use preservatives to keep vegetables, meat and fish fresh, and consumers don't recognise this."
According to the ministry expert, vehicles used to transport food "are not good enough, and the time between cooking and eating is too long. And canteens do not have equipment to keep the food warm."
The director of a company that supplies 3,000 food rations a day for a hospital in District 3 said the food should be eaten within one day.
To preserve meat items, her company should have a big professional fridge, she said. But it doesn't have the funds to buy one.
Numerous experts in the field have urged several chefs and companies to buy food from supermarkets with good reputations.
Supermarkets always ensure the quality and origin of food. Moreover, they also supply food in time and accept orders via email or phone, according to Trang of Metro Cash & Carry.
To reduce the number food poisoning cases, companies and the public must be better educated about food hygiene and safety, experts sai.
During national Hygiene and Food Safety Month, which ended last week, one of the main topics concerned canteens.
Inspectors have been examining the quality of many canteens across the country. The results of their work will be reported in the near future. — VNS