Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) – Regulations on food sample inspections during customs clearance, food safety and hygiene standards have been discussed at a meeting in HCM City between representatives of Japanese firms and Vietnamese officials.

At the March 15 meeting, organised by the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro), business representatives said a Vietnamese Government decree on food safety stipulated that food samples imported into Vietnam for development research purposes were exempted from safety inspections.

However, some transport services in Vietnam require Japanese companies to check the food safety of food samples weighing over five kilograms, said Nakagawa Motohisa, speaking for the Japanese firms.

This wasted cost and time of Japanese businesses, while impeding Vietnam’s research and development activities, he added.

Le Van Giang, Deputy Director of the Department of Food Hygiene and Safety under the Ministry of Health, agreed that food samples for testing and research are exempted from food safety testing.

Vietnam currently does not have any specific regulations on the volume of food samples exempted from inspection.

A representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that in order to import food samples, enterprises must commit to use them for the stated purpose and take responsibility under Vietnamese law for any misuse. Businesses that experience wrong regulations should report to Vietnamese authorities for guidance and solutions, he added.

The Japanese side also expressed its hope that Vietnam would exempt processed food originating from Japanese plants from quarantine.

According to Japanese businesses, their quality of raw materials for food production is strictly controlled. In addition, pre-packaged processing and heat treatment technology ensure that food products made from plants is not a source of infestation or harmful pest spread.

In response to the problem, Le Son Ha from the Department of Plant Protection under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that for high-tech and packaged foodstuffs, Vietnam has eliminated quarantine requirements.

But for processed foods that are not packed, the potential for insects and termites to grow during storage was possible, therefore, Vietnam still applied checks, said Ha.

Takimoto Koji, Jetro chief representative in HCM City, praised the cooperation and support of ministries and related agencies in Vietnam towards the difficulties encountered by Japanese enterprises.

The exchange of information with Vietnamese regulators will help Japanese firms better understand preferential mechanisms and policies for foreign businesses in general, and Japanese enterprises in particular, he said.-VNA