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Strict punishments handed out to businesses for food safety violations

Update: January, 19/2012 - 09:14

Suc khoe & doi song (Health and Life) spoke to Nguyen Van Nhien, chief inspector of the Ministry of Health's Viet Nam Food Administration, about food safety and hygiene during the Tet (lunar New Year) holiday.

What are the results of the food safety and hygiene inspections before the holiday?

Last month, the Ministry of Health set up 10 inspection teams to check food processing and trading enterprises in 20 big cities and provinces. At the same time, 63 other cities and provincial authorities carried out their own inspections. In total, the country has more than 12,000 inspection teams working to ensure safety standards.

According to the studies in progress, about 15-25 per cent of the enterprises were found to have unsatisfactory food safety and hygiene practices.

The violations included processing food in unclean facilities, failing to perform periodic health checks for workers, selling food of unknown origin, using banned additives and out-of-date ingredients.

What is punishment for the violations?

Depending on the severity of the infraction, the violators can either escape with a warning, be subject to administrative punishment, or have their advertisement registration and certificates withdrawn.

Inspectors found tonnes of substandard food such as chilli powder containing rhodamine B (often used as a fluorescent dye), frozen meat, suspect wine, and jams made from harmful substances in Hai Duong, Ha Noi, HCM City, Da Nang, Gia Lai and Vinh Phuc.

Names of the violating enterprises were announced in the media in order to protect consumers.

What measures has the administration taken to prevent food safety violations?

The central Steering Committee on Food Safety and Hygiene just launched the Action Month on Food Safety and Hygiene initiative with a focus on Tet and other spring festivals. Dissemination and inspection will be the two main goals of the programme.

The Viet Nam Food Administration will co-ordinate with local authorities to check food and beverage services before, during and after the Tet holiday.

The media will be in charge of disseminating information about the law on food safety and related documents.

In the long term, the ministry has been carrying out a number of measures, such as setting up and issuing guiding documents for the Law on Food Safety.

How does the administration recommend that customers go about choosing good food?

Customers should buy clearly labelled food with trademarks.

If a customer detects any food processing and trading enterprises that violate food safety regulations, he or she should inform the authorities. — VNS

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