Italian and local experts in food hygiene and safety management are comparing notes on quality systems in the agro-food sector at a two-day training seminar which opened in HCM City March 14.

Organised by the Italian Trade Commission, Italy's official trade promotion agency, it is meant to enhance the capacity of local agricultural, veterinary, food-testing and other authorities to guide and supervise the upgrade process in the country and perform their day-to-day tasks.

"The seminar aims at creating a foundation for co-operation between Italy and Vietnam in quality systems in the agro-food sector, an area that is crucial to both countries," Marco Saladini, the commission director, said.

" Italy possesses know-how relevant to Vietnam at this stage of its industrial development, both in terms of the understanding of the biological features of the materials to be processed and of the equipment to correctly process food."

In HCM City , there are 59,952 facilities producing and trading foodstuff, according to Pham Viet Thanh, Director of the Department of Health, and they meet only 15-20 percent of the city's needs.

Nearly 30 percent of them lacked food safety and hygiene certificates, he said.

Besides, most were small operators, making it difficult for them to ensure food hygiene and safety, Thanh said.

However, the shortcomings in the food management system is also owed to the shortage of trained official. he said.

A similar seminar will be held in Hanoi on March 17 and 18./.