Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has proposed the installation of a device to detect and quarantine food considered risky for public health at markets in Hanoi.

The operation of the device will be funded from the income of the market management authority, he said at a working session between Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam and the Hanoi authorities on food safety and hygiene on January 16.

Deputy PM Dam agreed with the minister's proposal, saying that the ministries of health and agriculture and rural development should carry out studies on the installation of such a device in the markets on a trial basis.

"Hanoi should immediately install the device in some large markets in the city. I think sellers who sell substandard food products will be deterred by the device," he added.

He noted that there are several shortcomings in food safety and hygiene management, adding that overlapping policies and legal documents, a lack of equipment to quarantine food and a shortage of food inspectors were adding to the problem.

He urged the relevant ministries and agencies to tighten control over food safety and hygiene to protect consumers, particularly during the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.

Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Nguyen The Thao said the city would focus on various measures to improve food safety and hygiene in the future, such as organising around 500 points of sale to supply quality food products to local consumers, increasing the dissemination of information and carrying out regular inspections.

At the working session, participants also expressed concern over the increase of poultry smuggling through the border areas, particularly with the Tet festival approaching.

Minister Phat said the price of chicken in China had dropped after signs of bird flu resurfaced in the country. Meanwhile, that in Vietnam remains high, thus promting smugglers to illegally transport chickens from China to Vietnam for sale, he noted.

He urged the Hanoi authorities to set up quarantine check points to prevent the entry of smuggled poultry into the city.

Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade Nguyen Thi Nhu Mai pointed out that Hanoi, on its own, could not prevent poultry smuggling. "It is difficult for local authorities to keep poultry smuggling under check when poultry is being illegally transported via the border areas into the city," she said.

Relevant authorities at the border areas should join hands in the fight, she added.

Hanoi consumes around 500 tonnes of beef and poultry products each day, but the city's food producers can meet only 66.5 percent of the demand, according to municipal authorities.-VNA