Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The Ministry of Health has yet to implement a Government decision issued in May 2017 to scrap or amend regulations that require salt used in processed food to be fortified with iodine and wheat flour with iron and zinc, causing difficulties for producers.
The Government reacted after business groups and enterprises demanded the regulations introduced in March 2017 through Decree 09/2016/NĐ-CP be scrapped.
Speaking at a meeting in HCM City on Monday, Dr Vũ Thế Thành, a member of the HCM City Food Safety Management Board, said iodine interacted with other ingredients in food when heated so its molecular structure changed. Therefore, adding iodine to food was of no use and only increased production costs, he said.
A spokesperson for Acecook Vietnam said that adding iron and zinc to wheat flour changed its colour and made it look mouldy.
His company produces goods for both the domestic and export markets on the same automatic production line, but since many markets ban the addition of iron and zinc to food products, his company has to clean the machines before processing for export, which is a costly process.
The company had been forced to reject small export orders because of this, he said.
Huỳnh Kim Chi, chairwoman of the Việt Nam Flour Corporation, said most foreign clients did not accept wheat flour supplemented with iron and zinc.
The company was unable to meet both Government regulations and foreign customers’ requirements, she lamented.
Separating the production process had also affected her company’s production capacity and competitiveness due to increased costs, she said.
Lâm Bá Nhĩ, director of quality management at food giant Vissan, said since high temperatures destroyed the iodine added to food, it was pointless.
"Decree No. 09 not failed to meet Government expectations for the addition of micronutrients, and caused wasteful expenses for businesses."
Lý Kim Chi, chairwoman of the Food and Foodstuff Association of HCM City (FFA), said the FFA and business associations had petitioned the Government multiple times to amend the decree.
Finally, on May 15 this year, the Government ordered the Ministry of Health to remove the regulations on fortification with iodine, iron and zinc, saying it should merely encourage businesses to do so, she said.
But the ministry was yet to amend or replace the decree, she told a seminar held by the FFA, the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, the Association of Food Transparency and the Phú Quốc Fish Sauce Association in HCM City on Monday.
At the seminar, delegates agreed to petition the ministry to scrap the decree.
Relevant agencies should raise public awareness of the benefits of micronutrients and the use of natural foods that contained micronutrients, they said. — VNS