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Food imports under strict control

Update: August, 16/2014 - 09:14

The Ministry of Agriculture will do all it can to ensure food safety, director general of the Plant Protection Department Nguyen Xuan Hong told Thoi bao Kinh Doanh (Business Times) newspaper.

What are the regulatory measures for Chinese agriculture products exported to Viet Nam?

If a foreign company wants to export its agricultural products to Viet Nam, the first thing they have to do is to send registration documents to Viet Nam's National Agro-Forestry Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) and the Plant Protection Department (PPD).

The documents must contain information on product origin, chemicals used in preservation and the host country's quality control system. If necessary, Viet Nam may send its officers to the registration country.

Only when all the information is clear can the product be exported to Viet Nam.

When products arrive at a Vietnamese border gate, they undergo a normal check, with 10 per cent of product samples selected at random for post checking.

After going through customs, products are still subject to close monitoring. If any food safety violation is detected, that product is withdrawn from the market.

Do you think the 10 per cent sample size is enough to represent a whole shipment?

The 10 per cent sample size is practised internationally. Of course, this practice is only applied to products with clean records regarding goods regulations. The purpose of post checking is to ensure safety for consumers.

I understand that many people have expressed anxiety about the chemical residue in Chinese products exported to Viet Nam. But a high level of pesticides has been found in only 2 per cent of post checked products. We have sent warnings to those Chinese companies that if they keep violating food safety regulations, their companies will be banned from doing business with Viet Nam.

We have also asked customs officers to impose stricter controls on agriculture products entering Viet Nam to ensure they are safe for consumers.

Our tests on pesticide levels in Chinese products imported to Viet Nam under bilateral trade agreements indicate that they are safe to eat. No food poisoning cases have been reported.

What will happen if tests show that the level of pesticides surpasses the cut off?

If the post check results show a breach of food safety regulations, we will apply the 30 per cent sample size for the following shipments. If the export companies keep violating the food safety regulations, we will ask them to take their cargo back to China. In addition, all their products in the Vietnamese market will be recalled.

Some people have complained that loopholes in border checking explain why many unsafe Chinese agro-products have been widely sold. What's your position on that?

I think what we should do right now is ensure food safety for consumers. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will revise Circular 13 on food safety inspections at border gates, which my department is assigned to do.

It is still too early to talk about specific detailed changes in the revised Circular 13. But any amendments to the document are all for the safety of consumers. — VNS

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