Progress has been made in recent years to improve food hygiene and safety in the country, but more needed to be done to reduce the number of food poisoning cases, experts have said.

"Although initial results have been positive, the country should do more to improve safety and hygiene standards since the number of food poisoning cases is still high, about 10,000 cases a year," said Nguyen Thanh Phong, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Food Safety and Hygiene Department.

Vietnam 's agricultural produce is exported to 160 countries and territories, including markets such as the US , Japan and France where have strict standards.

In the domestic market, many enterprises now use advanced management model such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and those which are certified by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) to process food.

But as much as 85 percent of food processing establishments were small to medium. Many used outdated production technology, he said.

The upcoming international food processing machinery exposition (Foodtex Vietnam), to be held in HCM City on March 22-24 next year, was expected to offer opportunities for local food-processing companies to improve production technology, Phong said at a press conference held in HCM City on Oct. 26.

Foodtex Vietnam will run alongside the international exhibition on livestock, dairy, meat-processing and aquaculture (ILDEX Vietnam) at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Center in District 7.

The event would create a platform for participants to exchange information and seek new business partners as well as discuss current issues in the food industry, said Ladda Mongkolchaivivat, general manager of NCC Exhibition Organising Co Ltd./.