Food testing urged ahead of Tet hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyen Xuan Cuong, has urged relevant agencies to step up food safety inspections as consumption increases ahead of the Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival.
 In a directive issued over the weekend, he asked People’s Committees of provinces and cities across the country to conduct surprise visits to facilities engaged in producing or trading in food products, which are expected to be in high demand during Tet.
 Relevant agencies are authorised to publish lists of unsafe products to prevent consumers from buying or using them, he said.
 Individuals and organisations which specialise in production and trade of agro-forestry and fishery goods were advised to follow regulations on food safety.
 "The agricultural and rural developments at localities should send staff to help educate consumers how to recognise certified food and products with clear origins," Cuong said.
 Public information campaigns to promote safe food and inform the public of places where they can buy it should be encouraged, he said.
 Regarding the prevention of disease of cattle and poultry, the minister also ordered localities to strengthen the management of cattle and poultry quarantine and slaughter to prevent the spread of diseases and ensure food safety and hygiene.
 He emphasised the need to stop illegal transportation of livestock cross the border to better control animal disease, avoiding the outbreaks of epidemic before, during and after the Lunar New Year.
 Cuong also assigned inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to coordinate with the Environmental Police Department to inspect, gather information and detect acts of producing, trading and using banned substances in animal husbandry, and uncertified fertisers and pesticides. Any breaches of safety standards should be rigidly handled, he said.
 "The efficiency of websites, as well as hotlines for inspectors, and providing timely information to news agencies and the press, should be promoted so that consumers know how to choose safe food," he said.
 In another development, Hoang Thanh Van, head of Department of Livestock Production under the MARD, said there was no shortage of meat and livestock products for the Tet.
 Food safety inspections in the first 11 months of the year showed that the percentage of fresh meat containing Salbutamol, a substance for making drugs for asthma treatment which is used by pig raisers, was 1.27 percent, half of last year’s figure.
 Van attributed the positive results to good coordination among law enforcement agencies and the supervision by consumers. — VNA