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Fish sauce scandal suspension?

Update: October, 28/2016 - 09:00
A resident chooses fish sauce at a supermarket in Hà Nội. The Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Association will be temporarily suspended from operation for releasing misleading test results of fish sauce causing fear among the public. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Trần Anh Tuấn yesterday said the ministry and related agencies would consider suspending the Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Association (Vinastas) from operation.

This follows concerns related to the association releasing misleading test results of fish sauce causing fear among the public.

Vinastas released public a survey on October 17 according to which arsenic content was way beyond the permitted level. However, the information turned out to be misleading since the survey made no distinction between organic and inorganic arsenic content in fish sauce. The type of arsenic in traditional fish sauce mentioned in the survey was organic arsenic, which is believed to be safe for humans.

The Ministry of Health confirmed last Saturday that all fish sauces in the market are safe for human consumption, following a 10-day inspection.

Deputy Minister Tuấn said an announcement on the quality of products must have permission of the ministries of science and technology, health, agriculture and rural development, and industry and trade.

Vinastas’ announcement of its survey of fish sauce without ministry-level permission led to concerns among the public, therefore, the ministries decided to suspend its operation until further investigation was conducted.

Earlier, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) asked the Việt Nam Competition Authority and related agencies to set up an inspection team. Inspectors will issue harsh penalties on Vinastas’ violations and report to the Prime Minister before November 10.

Minister of Industry and Trade Trần Tuấn Anh has ordered the Việt Nam Competition Authority to set up an interdisciplinary team to check whether Vinastas has complied with the law following its misleading report.

According to the official website of the MoIT, the team includes representatives of the MoIT, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Health, as well as the Ministry of Public Security and the Việt Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations.

The team is responsible for clarifying the nature and legal basis of the Vinatas’ survey conducted by Vinastas to determine whether the association violated regulations while surveying and releasing results. In addition, the team will explore whether Vinastas received financial sponsorship from domestic firms and support from technical and scientific organisations to carry out the survey.

Vinastas has been ordered to prepare documents related to this survey’s procedures, findings and related content to work with the inspection team. — VNS

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