Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI - The Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Association (Vinastas) survey which released misleading test results of fish sauce and caused public fear was not independant, reliable or transparent, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has said.
The statement came after an investigation by the ministry following a national Vinastas survey on fish sauce.
On October 18, the association published on its website a story named “Nearly 85 per cent of fish sauce samples of 88 enterprises fail to meet standards”. The story revealed misleading information in which 104 fish sauce samples (out of 150 tested) failed to meet arsenic standards.
The survey showed that 95.65 per cent of fish sauce samples had nitrogen level above 40 per cent and contained arsenic higher than permitted level.
The survey defined organic arsenic of Việt Nam’s standard 8-2:2011/BYT as similar to inorganic arsenic which is considered to be highly toxic.
However, the information was misleading since the survey made no distinction between organic and inorganic arsenic content in fish sauce. The arsenic in traditional fish sauce surveyed was organic arsenic, which is safe for humans.
The MoIT slammed the Vinastas survey, saying that it was incorrect without scientific and legal basis, causing confusion and fear among consumers.
The inaccurate information about the quality of fish sauce indicates Vinastas violated the Food Safety Law, according to the MoIT.
The ministry said that although the survey was conducted on behalf of Vinastas, it was not clearly planned and conducted mainly by the association’s president and individuals. Many steps of the process were not approved or monitored by the association.
According to the ministry’s investigation, all 150 fish sauce samples were bought without proper receipts as regulated by Finance Ministry. Among that, 89 samples were bought in the market with only retail sale bills, 61 others were purchased independently by individuals.
The survey did not ensure independence as regulated in provision 28 of the Law on Consumers’ Right Protection because Vinastas said that the survey was done under financial sponsorship of other organisations.
The MoIT’s investigation also found that Vinastas violated its association regulations from 2011 to 2015.
After concluding the investigation, the MoIT reported to Prime Miniter Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, asking the association to publicly correct the information on mass media and clarify who was to blame.
The MoIT also asked that the Ministry of Home Affairs verify and clarify the legal status of Vinastas in regards to consumers’ rights.
The Health Ministry and MoIT are in charge of imposing punishments on violations of Vinastas in accordance with law.
On October 22, the Health Ministry announced that all 247 fish sauce samples – randomly collected from markets and supermarkets in five provinces and cities - Hà Nội, HCM City, Khánh Hòa, Ninh Thuận and Bình Thuận – were tested and no inorganic arsenic was detected. -- VNS