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Further steps needed to control food safety: Deputy PM

Update: January, 05/2019 - 10:31
Last year saw remarkable progress in food safety monitoring, particularly in the dissemination of safety information, the promotion of clean food production and distribution and the verification of product origins.– VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI – Last year saw remarkable progress in food safety monitoring, particularly in the dissemination of safety information, the promotion of clean food production and distribution and the verification of product origins.

Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam praised the progress in a meeting of the Central Inter-ministerial Committee on Food Safety held in Hà Nội yesterday to review food inspection work.

“Last year, inspection of food safety was implemented from the central to local levels, with the participation of relevant agencies,” said the Deputy PM, who also serves as the committee’s head. “The handling of violations has become stricter with increased fines as compared to previous years.”

“However, there were shortcomings in control of the use of plant protection chemicals and antibiotics, livestock and poultry slaughtering and food trading,” said Đam

According to the committee’s report, in 2018, Hà Nội authorities made 102,945 inspections on food safety and hygiene, discovering 6,859 entities violating regulations and collecting VNĐ25 billion (US$1.07 million) in fines. They destroyed unsafe products of 125 workshops.

The Ministry of Health gave administrative sanctions worth VNĐ89 billion (US$3.8 million) nationwide, 1.4 times more than in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s inspectors uncovered violations in more than 4,900 entities trading agricultural production materials and issued fines of VNĐ38.4 billion (US$1.6 million), the report said.

Moreover, 15 parties were prosecuted for food safety violation in 11 cases.

The capacity of the inspection teams was raised so as to detect, prevent and handle various forms of violations. Safety information was publicised widely on mass media to give the population adequate information.

Inspectors worked to disseminate information to increase awareness of safety issues and co-ordinated with the media to provide information about businesses that failed to meet food safety standards.

More work was done to prevent food poisoning, and the number of deaths associated with food poisoning decreased from previous years.

However, the committee showed shortcomings in inspection and control activities nationwide.

Progress has been slow in handling the abuse of plant protection chemicals, veterinary drugs and antibiotics in agriculture and aquaculture. The use of food additives and unsafe slaughtering practices also must be addressed. Cross-border food smuggling persists, and the sale and advertisement of supplements online has not yet been controlled.

Speaking in the meeting, Health Minister Trần Thị Kim Tiến pointed out three factors hindering food safety control. These were deliberate violations by businesses, poor facilities and low awareness of the population on eating street food.

The minister said in the coming time, authorities should continue to strengthen inspection and monitoring measures and strictly handle violations of food safety while honouring good production facilities.

It was also necessary to foster capacity for food control departments at local levels, Tiến said.

Concluding the meeting, the deputy PM asked the ministries and relevant agencies to promote inspections and sanctions for violations, and to carry out food safety monitoring programs nationwide focusing on chemicals, plant protection substances and safe slaughtering, especially in big cities and agricultural areas.

In particular, Hà Nội and HCM City should further control food production and trading so as to have the same quality as export products, said the deputy PM. – VNS

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