National Assembly gets tough on food hygiene

June 11, 2009

LookAtVietnam – National Assembly deputies yesterday agreed that the early introduction of a Law on Food Hygiene and Safety would pave the way for big improvements in food hygiene – from the farm and slaughter yard to processing factories, street stalls and restaurants.

A resolution on food safety and hygiene will be issued for the NA adoption by the end of this session.

They said the law should focus on State management, the responsibilities of food processing and trading companies – and punishments for those who violated the rules on handling food at every level.

Deputy Bui Thi Hoa from Dak Nong province said there were many shortcomings in the management system because of a lack of appropriate mechanisms and a lack of financial and human resources.

“Food service relate to many ministries and sectors, but co-ordination is irregular and ineffective,” said Hoa.

“We want to replace the ordinance on food safety and hygiene with a law and to perfect existing legal documents.”

“We also want to modify or promulgate new technical standards to meet State management demands.”

Hoa emphasised the importance of strengthening education on hygiene laws, especially on the ethics of food trading and production.

Deputy Truong Thi Thu Hang from Dong Nai province suggested the Government invest more of the budget in food safety and hygiene.

“Investment in management activities per head should be increased from VND1,000 to VND9,000. It may be a burden on the State Budget, however, for the sake of community health and the next generation, we should do it.”

Health Minister Nguyen Quoc Trieu said investment in food safety was an investment in the development of the nation.

Deputy Tran Thi Hoa Sinh of Lang Son province said the creation of transparent laws and legal documents, strong communication and propaganda activities, and strict punishments would achieve results.

Deputy Dang Thi Nga from Lam Dong province said that to reduce hygiene infringements, State management had to be improved from central to local levels.

She said this should focus on preliminary treatment and processing stages under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Many delegates spoke of the need to test imported food, improving testing laboratories and strengthening human resources.

Deputy Nguyen Thi Kha from Tra Vinh province said about 100 tonnes of fruit was imported through northern border Lang Son province’s Tan Thanh border gate each day, but no hygiene checks were made.

She said only about 11 per cent of food-trading businesses were licensed for food safety and hygiene.

“We should quickly modify the ordinance on violations and closely control import activities,” she added.

Closing the discussion, NA Deputy Chairman Nguyen Duc Kien said food hygiene should be a key national programme.

A resolution on food safety and hygiene will be issued for the NA adoption by the end of this session.

A National Assembly report on food hygiene from 2004 to 2008 said some remarkable results had been achieved, especially in the handling of key agricultural products, such as rice and maize.

The quality of live aquatic products has also been improved, especially exports. Turnover from agricultural and aquaculture products was estimated at $10.2 billion in 2008.

However, there have been problems because of the amount of legal documents is overwhelming and standards are backward.

A total of 6,000 people were treated for food poisoning between 2004 and 2008, more than 1,000 people of them were not cured.

Food safety and hygiene management systems promulgated 337 legal documents at central levels and 930 at lower levels. The Government spent more than $18 million on management activities in the same period.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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