A street food corner in Vietnam (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) -
More inspections of street-food are needed to control food safety and hygiene and prevent food poisoning.

Quick and affordable street food is often the first choice of students and people with low-incomes, however it has been said the food poses risks to health.

According to surveys by Hanoi Moi (New Hanoi) newspaper, street food has become more and more popular in Hanoi. Most of the establishments are near hospitals, schools, markets and factories.

In front of Viet Duc Hospital and the Central Obstetrics Hospital in Trieu Quoc Dat Street, at lunch time, several mobile street food stalls selling rice and noodles can be seen on the sidewalks.

The vendors use their bare hands to serve food and customers sit eating on the dusty sidewalks. And the mobile shops do not have enough water to clean dishes.

Dr Tran Ngoc Tu, head of Hanoi’s Food Safety and Hygiene Administration, told the paper that restaurant owners did not fully comply with food safety and hygiene laws.

“At present, about 20 percent of food service entities are using food with unknown origins,” Tu said.

“Seventeen percent of street food shops were located near polluted areas and the food was not on shelves at least 60cm above the ground,” he told the paper.

Meanwhile, many shops did not comply with regulations to protect food from dust and insects. Cooks used bared hands to serve food and many shops did not use clean water for processing food and washing dishes and cooking utensils, Tu said.

According to the official, most street food stalls are mobile, making it difficult for officials to control food safety and hygiene.

Additionally, local authorities had not tightened inspections of food safety and hygiene or strictly punished violations.

Under current regulations, inspections on restaurants and street food stalls are the remit of ward and township authorities. But these authorities just warned violators or levied small fines unlikely to prevent violations, said Tu.

Last year, wards and townships in Hanoi inspected more than 17,000 restaurants and street food stalls and fined 16 street food vendors a total of 9.3 million VND (roughly 400 USD) for food safety violations.

To overcome shortcomings in street food control, recently, deputy director of Hanoi Healthcare Department, Tran Văn Chung has asked agencies to enhance food safety inspections in the city.

Chung asked local authorities to carry out periodical inspections on restaurants and street food stalls at least four times a year.

The Hanoi Food Safety and Hygiene Administration should conduct unscheduled inspections to restaurants and street food stalls to uncover violations. Violations must carry strict sanctions and be made public.

Also, to effectively implement the food safety and hygiene regulations, information dissemination to food sellers and people is important.-VNA