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Ministries must coordinate to help ensure food safety

Update: December, 18/2015 - 09:21
Food selling along a street of Ha Noi. Food safety is the responsibility of the whole society, of all people, old and young alike. — Photo baodatviet.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — Food safety and consumers' rights are the two topics that attracted many participants to a forum organised by the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) in the capital city yesterday.

In his opening remarks, Pham Van Tan, VUSTA Vice Chairman and Secretary General listed five issues directly related to food safety in Viet Nam. They are the current legal system; state management; public communications; people's awareness and social organisations.

Tan complained that our current legal documents on food safety were too complicated, overlapping and sometimes contradicting. In his opinion, part of the blame is shifted to the co-management of three ministries: the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

"In their management, the three ministries have mainly focused on major food manufacturers or companies and almost forgotten the small ones. In addition, their law enforcement officers' expertise on food safety is weak and some are negligent during their supervision," Tan said.

Nguyen Tu Chuong, from the Viet Nam Fishing Association urged the government to publish a handbook on food safety to distribute to people to raise their awareness about food safety and to help them know how to detect good food from contaminated food.

Nguyen Manh Hung, Vice Chairman and Secretary General of the Viet Nam Standards and Consumers Protection Association asked the government to adopt synchronous measures on food safety from "farm to folk".

"This is a very effective way to retrieve the origin of the food and to handle any incidents that may arise," Hung said.

Medical doctor Do Thi Van suggested that the government should abolish its decision to appoint the three ministries to co-manage the issue of food safety.

"An agency should be appointed and act as a focal point in food safety and that agency has the duty to report to the Prime Minister," Van emphasised.

Van also asked the government to give due sanctions to any manufacturers or companies that violate the food safety laws in Viet Nam.

Tran Huu Thang, Vice-Chairman and Secretary General of the Viet Nam Medical Association, said food safety was the responsibility of the whole society, of all people, old and young alike.

"To achieve this goal, raising people's awareness is the most important measure so that they know what kind of food they should eat and what they should not," said Thang. — VNS

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