Inspecting food processing - Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA)  - Ho Chi Minh City has carried out drastic measures to ensure food safety and hygiene, but this is a long-term fight against unsafe food, said Vice Chairwoman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thi Thu.

Thu spoke at a meeting on December 2 reviewing the effectiveness of the implementation of a pilot programme on food-safety inspection at 10 communes and wards in five districts over one year.

“The fight will not end overnight. Profits from using unsafe food are too big,” Thu said.

The best way is to increase inspections and impose strict punishments, she added.

“The city is achieving the goal of improving the quality of life so its authorities should not let residents be worried about food poisoning,” she said.

Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy head of the city Department of Health, said that the pilot programe on food-safety inspection at 10 communes and wards in five districts carried out last November is one of the city’s programmes to ensure food safety.

More surprise inspections have been carried out in the programme, Hung said.

As of September, 3,968 food producing and trading facilities in the 10 communes and wards have been inspected, an increase of 36.2 percent compared to the same period of last year.

The districts include 3, 5, Binh Tan, Binh Chanh and Hoc Mon.

Of the 3,968 facilities, 2,163 were fined while fines were imposed on only 343 of the 2,914 facilities inspected in the same period last year.

The programme has helped reduce food poisoning incidents from four to one in the 10 localities, as of September.

Do Dinh Thien, deputy head of the Binh Tan District People’s Committee, suggested that the city People’s Committee should allow the district to expand the programme in its other wards.

Dr Nguyen Hung Long, deputy head of the Vietnam Food Administration, said that in the programme, food-safety inspectors at wards and communes have been given the right to impose fines in order to boost warning for violators of food safety and hygiene.

In the past, inspectors at wards and communes only gave out warnings to violators, Long said.

Thu said that the city will expand the programme throughout the city.

“Grassroots-level inspectors are necessary to help quickly detect violations of food safety and hygiene,” Thu said.

She said that the department should open training courses to improve skills for inspectors at wards and communes.

Prof Dr Nguyen Tan Binh, head of the city Department of Health, said that the city is co-operating with the local Vietnam Fatherland Front to strengthen supervision to ensure food safety and hygiene.

“This is a task of the whole political system and community to join with each other,” Binh said.-VNA