Vietnam is currently facing enormous challenges of ensuring food hygiene and safety because of poor management and slow adoption of law-regulated documents. After reviewing the results of inspections by functional agencies and localities, the number of cases of food poisoning has risen at an alarming level. An Action Month for Food Quality, Hygiene and Safety 2009 has been launched to further enhance the role and responsibilities of businesses in ensuring the quality of food hygiene and safety. Serious violations
Health Minister Nguyen Quoc Trieu said that from 2000 to March 2009, more than 1,830 cases of food poisoning were reported, in which 499 people died. During the traditional lunar New Year Festival 2009 alone, 9,609 or 16.04 percent of more than 39,890 food producers failed to meet required food hygiene and safety standards and 976 had to destroy their products. Addressing the launch of the campaign, State Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan said that food poisoning in industrial parks due to fake and poor-quality products and the high level of microorganisms and chemical residues in farm products had reached alarming levels. Unhygienic products have not only affected public health but also caused damage to the credibility of Vietnamese producers on the international market. In addition, individuals, organisations and businesses are not fully aware of the harmful effects of unhygienic products, Ms Doan added. Mr Trieu cited a number of difficulties arising to the challenges of ensuring food hygiene and safety due to violations of food hygiene and safety regulations, while expressing his concern over the illegal cross-border imports of products and the trading of bogus and poor quality products. He attributed such things to the irresponsibility of certain agencies in tackling the food hygiene and safety issue. Strictly dealing with violations
State Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan recently asked the Ministry of Health to work closely with the relevant ministries and agencies to intensify the management of food hygiene and safety. The ministry needs to draw up plans for training staff and deal strictly with cases of violation, she said. Nguyen Cong Khan, head of the Food Hygiene and Safety Department, said that his department will focus on training human resources and upgrading provincial food hygiene and safety agencies. He stressed the need to increase the monitoring of food production and distribution networks and identify responsibilities for both businesses and authorities. Enhancing the role of management agencies
According to Health Minister Nguyen Quoc Trieu, it is essential to raise the role and responsibilities of management agencies and businesses to ensure food hygiene and safety and enforce the law-regulated documents. Regarding the month of action for food hygiene and safety, Nguyen Thanh Phong, deputy head of the Food Hygiene and Safety Department, said that if there was a gap in the food chain “from the farm to the table”, many problems would arise. This includes methods of breeding and cultivating, the use of chemicals, food processing, and the transportation of foodstuff. The management of the food chain involves ministries, People’s Committees at all levels, State management agencies, producers and consumers. They all share community responsibility for food hygiene and safety. Mr. Phong went on to say that many ministries and agencies are involved in food management and to enforce tougher inspections and controls in order to tackle the huge environment issues. “This year, we aim to raise the role and responsibilities of management agencies, businesses and consumers in ensuring food hygiene and safety,” he said. It is also necessary to disseminate information on food hygiene and safety regulations. In addition, scientific knowledge of food processing, production and consumption should be...