Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – The Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Association (Vinastas) – a key initiator of the fish sauce scandal – has posted an official correction of its false report on the quality of the sauce following heavy public pressure and Governmental investigations into the case.
In a correction post on Vinastas’ official website, the association acknowledged mistakes by its survey team, which did not make a distinction between arsenic and the non-organic arsenic. “We wish to clarify that general arsenic includes both non-organic and organic arsenic, of which only the non-organic contains toxicity,” Vinastas said.
It also added that among 20 fish sauce samples tested for arsenic, none were found to have the non-organic, toxic variety and were thus safe for consumption.
Vinastas originially posted an article titled “Nearly 85 per cent of fish sauce samples of 88 firms fail to meet standards” on its website on October 18, a day after it held a press conference to announce survey results suggesting that most of the traditionally-made fish sauces were sub-par and might contain toxic arsenic. The report created a public outcry given that the sauces are a staple of daily cooking, and led to a boycott of the products.
The findings were subsequently denied by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Ministry of Health, which had done its own quality inspection of the traditional fish sauce.
Vinastas on Saturday admitted that the survey, as well as the article published on its website, was “inaccurate” and had already been removed from the website.
On November 24, the association also issued an apology for “announcing the fish sauce survey incautiously and inaccurately”.
It is unclear whether the association will be penalised. The MoIT, which oversees the operation of the association, found indications that Vinastas had breached the Food Safety Law prohibiting the publication of misleading information on food safety resulting in public anxiety and damage to producers and businesses.
The Ministry of Information and Communications in mid-November also slapped 50 local newspapers and media outlets with a total fine of more than VNĐ1 billion ($44,400) for running the surveys and other wrongful articles related to the findings. – VNS