Chemicals selling at the Kim Biên market in HCM City. Chemical markets that are endangering food and public safety must be moved out of residential areas and criminal charges filed against violation of trading rules in toxic substances.— Photo baophapluat.vn
HCM CITY – Chemical markets that are endangering food and public safety must be moved out of residential areas and criminal charges filed against violation of trading rules in toxic substances.
According to Phan Hoàn Kiếm, head of the HCM City’s market watch department, the city has about 600 organisations and individuals engaged in producing, importing and trading chemicals.
Kim Biên market in District 5, for example, also known as the “death” market, has 16 stalls selling chemicals, including pigments, dairy and food additives. In addition, there are 93 chemical retailers around the market trading in industrial chemicals, flavours, and food additives.
Local authorities have discovered numerous violations of chemical trading rules such as products without labels, products of unknown origin and expired dates, and illegally imported substances.
“To get big profits, traders ignore the rules, selling illegal toxic chemicals which endanger the quality of food and badly affect people’s health,” said Kiếm.
Just this year, the market control agency has uncovered 15 violations. Last year, eight violations were found involving nearly 28,000kg of illegal chemicals.
Meanwhile, Nguyễn Ngọc Hòa, deputy director of the city’s Industry and Trade Department, told the Tin Tức (News) Newspaper that supervision of chemical trading is insufficient.
“The sellers do not care why the buyers buy chemicals. A buyer can get a can of acid easily despite shocking instances of acid attacks on people,” Hòa told the paper.
Monitoring the chemical trade is complicated by the overlap of authorised agencies.
At present, the industrial and trade sector is responsible for controlling industrial and agricultural precursor substances, while the healthcare sector is assigned to supervise pharmaceutical chemicals and anti-bacterial substances, and the agriculture sector takes responsibility for monitoring chemical substances used in planting and animal breeding.
However, no sector takes responsibility of monitoring the trading sites.
Strict monitoring of acid sales
In order to improve supervision in this sector, retailers must also adhere to the rules of product labeling and include information of origin, expiry date and intended use.
Meanwhile, deputy chairman of the municipal Peoples’ Committee, Trần Vĩnh Tuyến, suggested that for dangerous chemicals like acid, buyers be required to show their identity cards and explain the purpose of the purchase to the sellers. If the sellers do not elicit this information, they would bear responsibility for the use of chemicals in criminal acts.
Chemical warehouses in residential areas must be strictly punished, he added.
At present, the fine for violations in the chemical trade is still light compared to the profits and thus punishments should be toughened, he said.
In order to properly enforce the law, a centre for trading of chemical products must be set up.
The Sai Gon Trading Group has recently started a pre-feasibility study for a chemical trading centre covering an area of 7-10ha.
The centre would house more than 100 chemical trading shops relocated from Kim Biên market and other parts of the city. – VNS