Authorities inspect a canteen in Central Đà Nẵng Province. Consumers drawn to shops advertising “clean” vegetables and fruit are beginning to question if the stores’ claims are valid. — Photo thanhnien.com.vn
HCM CITY— Consumers drawn to shops advertising “clean” vegetables and fruit are beginning to question if the stores’ claims are valid.
A woman from HCM City with a two-month-old child, for example, often buys produce at a store in her district that sells safe food. But she is unsure about the quality.
“I’m confused about whether the food is clean and safe. I also want to know how the city authorities manage and check food at such stores,” she said.
Other consumers in the city are becoming increasingly worried, especially after many reports of food containing banned chemicals or grown with excessive pesticides.
At a roundtable on food safety and hygiene held on Thursday by Pháp Luật (Laws) newspaper, Huỳnh Lê Thái Hòa, head of the city’s Food Safety and Hygiene Division, said more shops, both online and traditional, had emerged to meet the demand.
“Many owners of these stores, who have a genuine conscience, will access sources of food meeting safety and hygiene regulations to buy and sell it to consumers. But some store owners take advantage of consumers’ fear of unsafe food and advertise their food as being safe,” Hòa said.
The city plans to strengthen surveillance and inspection among these stores, he added.
According to a representative of the city’s Department of Industry and Trade, about 200 stores sell safe food in the city.
The designation is based on enterprises’ registration, he said, adding that the remaining were not registered at the department.
Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, the deputy head of the Food Safety and Hygiene Division, said that consumers should buy food with a logo of a safe food supply chain provided by the division.
Nguyễn Thị Lệ Thoa, head of the office for management of food safety at the city’s Plant Protection Division, said the division would enhance surveillance at these stores besides all three wholesales markets, as well as farmers’ fields.
The division has a team that looks for advertisements of shops or people selling “clean” vegetables published on Facebook and other websites, Thoa said.
The team visits the places to ensure that the food is safe, she said, adding that the team provides guidance on food safety and hygiene regulations.
“We create conditions for anyone who wants to sell safe food,” Thoa said.
After guidance, store owners will be given time to correct their shortcomings, she said, adding that the division would then recheck at a later date.
In the case of violations, the shops and owners will be fined and even shut down.
“However, it is difficult to do because of a shortage of personnel. We have faced difficulties in seeking addresses,” Thoa said.
One online store will be given guidance in May. --VNS