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Producers, traders blamed for substandard food safety

Update: November, 25/2014 - 08:52
A food vendor in HCM City. One of the hurdles to ensuring food safety is fraud in indicating origins and reluctance to obey regulations and authorities. – VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy

HCM CITY (VNS) — Though food producers' and traders' awareness of hygiene has improved, their sense of responsibility and adoption of practices to ensure food safety have not, experts have said.

One of the hurdles to ensuring food safety is fraud in indicating origins and the reluctance to obey regulations and authorities, Nguyen Hung Long, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Food Hygiene and Safety Department, said.

"The main reason is the low sense of responsibility among people participating in food production and trading," he told a seminar in HCM City last Friday.

They are emboldened to continue their fraudulent practices by the shortage of human resources to monitor them, checking equipment, and funds, he said.

The common causes of food pollution are microorganisms; toxic chemicals like plant protection chemicals, growth substances, fungicides, and preservatives; and heavy metals, he said.

The risk of contamination remains huge at every stage of the supply chain and very difficult to prevent in a sustainable manner due to land and water pollution and lack of planning to create safe farming areas, he admitted.

Plant seeds, fertilisers, and plant protection chemicals are mostly supplied by small business, illegally imported, and of unknown origin and poor quality, he added.

Ly Kim Chi, president of the Food and Foodstuff Association in HCM City, said 80 per cent of the agricultural output and food consumed every day in HCM City is of dubious origin, with fraud often involved.

Banned chemicals are still used in agriculture, aquaculture, and seafood processing, while the methods of storing agricultural produce and processing food leave them susceptible to contamination, she said. In the first 10 months of the year nearly 110 cases of severe food poisoning occurred around the country, killing 20 people and affecting 3,800 others, she said.

The seminar, titled "Food Safety: Responsibilities of Manufacturers, Distributors, Retailers", was organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam and Association of Viet Nam Retailers.

It attracted nearly 200 executives from the food and beverage industry, supply chain, and logistics firms. — VNS

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