Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers if they bought meat at traditional markets and if they trusted the quality and hygiene of the food.
Here are some responses:
Rie Watanabe, Japanese, Ha Noi
I go to both traditional markets and supermarkets in Viet Nam. I have started cooking Vietnamese food and I find it easy to visit traditional markets to buy raw produce.
I can go to meat stalls and ask for the best "cuts" for bun cha or pho. I am acquainted with the butchers around my area so whenever I want to buy pork or beef, I know where to go - and how to ask. The same thing applies for vegetables, especially special herbs that I can only find at old-style markets.
My Vietnamese partner has taught me a lot about choosing raw food in Viet Nam. There are lots of things to learn about its quality by seeing, touching - and smelling.
I have to admit, it was horrified at first going to the market and selecting a fish still swimming or a chicken that was still clucking. I do not do such things in Japan, but the experiences have been good. I am not scared of these things any more.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
After living in Taiwan and Viet Nam and vacationing regularly in Thailand, I trust the meat sitting in the hot sun more than the frozen meat in supermarkets in Canada.This seems counter-intuitive, so what's wrong with refrigeration and regular inspections?
The answer is that thousands of animals are killed and the meat is mixed in super-factories back home. The end product can be traced, but that's small comfort if you get sick.
I prefer seeing an old lady prepare vegetables in front of me while a young man stir-fries up a meal in a wok right on the street.
It's hot, fresh, tasty and cheap. Whenever I am asked if the food is good, I always joke that you should ask me tomorrow! After all these years I cannot recall getting sick.
It would be slow and difficult process to close small, unregulated markets down. Supermarkets will have to compete on selection, convenience, price and delivery. But, if there is a traditional market at the end of the block,why change a lifetime of habit?
Vanessa Pham, French, Ha Noi
I have been living in Ha Noi for almost four years, but I have never shopped in a traditional market.
It is not because of hygiene. It is just the language difference at these markets has hindered me from going. However, my husband, who is Vietnamese, tells me that the meat and vegetables at these markets are usually fresh.
The animals are slaughtered early in the morning and sold within a few hours at morning markets. I can tell other livestock is also quite safe to eat.
Fish and chickens are kept alive until someone buys them. My husband goes to the market to buy food when we have Vietnamese food for dinner.
I personally prefer going to the supermarket because they sell Western food, such as pasta, cheese and herbs that can not be found in Vietnamese traditional markets.
John MacDonald. Australian, Ha Noi
As they say in Australia, horses for courses. If you want Western food and spices, sausages, cheeses and biscuits, go to a Western supermarket. If you want Vietnamese food, go to a traditional market, where there is a huge variety of fresh meat and vegetables at rock bottom prices.
The thing to watch out for though is the slow push of Western-style supermarkets throughout Viet Nam on the grounds that they are more hygienic or more modern. Doesn't matter who owns them, Vietnamese or entrepreneurs from the West, supermarkets could spell the death of the wonderful old markets full of cheap fresh produce.
A couple of things the Government could do to protect real Vietnamese interests would be to make some attempt to clean-up the traditional markets before so-called progress - and the supermarkets - wipes them out.
And street abattoirs should also face daily inspections, even if it is by skilled local with training in hygiene. After all, Vietnamese have been killing and selling meat this way for several thousand years.
Viet Pete, British, HCM City
My Vietnamese wife has purchased all the meat we as a family eat (except beef) from the local markets for the last 17 years without a problem. The flavour is far better than supermarket meat in the West.
I think good shopping comes down to the knowledge and experience of the purchaser.
K.Ushiyama, Viet Nam
While living in Viet Nam for five years, I bought fresh meat at street shop and it was much better than foreign meat from big supermarkets. There's nothing wrong with Western food or culture, but we should sustain Asian culture. If meat is super fresh and tasty, it's certainly OK. — VNS