Marketwatch authorities inspect foods at a shop in Hà Nội. — Photo vfa.gov.vn
HCM CITY — A pilot programme on creating markets with adequate food safety and hygiene in 32 provinces and cities in the 2011-15 period has increased consumer confidence, according to the director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Science and Technology Department.
Nguyễn Phú Cường, speaking at a meeting held yesterday in HCM City on food safety and hygiene, said that consumers had responded positively to the programme, with markets seeing an increase in sales.
The markets’ stalls that sell pork and poultry, seafood, vegetables and fruit have been upgraded or rebuilt to reduce bacterial contamination, Cường said.
Managers and traders at the markets were also provided training on food safety and hygiene, he added.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade plans to expand the programme to all remaining provinces and cities in the country.
However, Cường said that it was difficult to do so because of a shortage of government funds.
Only several of the 32 provinces and cities have allocated more funds to expand the programme to an additional one or two markets.
There are 8,660 markets in the country, but only 284 of them are listed in category one, which includes facilities with modern and hygienic standards.
Close management of food at wholesale markets is also vital and should be improved, said Dr Nguyễn Thị Hồng Minh, former Minister of Agriculture (now the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) and chairwoman of the board at Traceability Solutions and Services Joint-Stock Company.
Food from these markets is delivered to many stores all over the city.
She said that associations such as grapefruit growers should attend courses on control and management of food safety and hygiene.
State authorities, including representatives from the ministries of health, agriculture and rural development as well as trade and industry, are currently in charge of management of food safety and hygiene.
Associations can also help guide farmers follow domestic and foreign good agricultural practices and develop markets.
“This will help agriculture develop in a sustainable way,” she added.
Minh said the government should require farmers to follow Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap).
She said that farmers should receive training in growing vegetables and fruit under VietGap standards.
Farmers should also be required to meet VietGap standards within a given period of time set by the government after they receive training. Any farmer not following VietGap standards will be required to stop cultivation, she said.
Deputy Minister of Health Trương Quốc Cường said that government agencies had faced difficulties in tracing products because many traders buy goods that have no label of origin.
Cường suggested that the government set up a central specialised board in charge of food safety and hygiene, similar to the one in HCM City. —VNS