Street food safety sees marked improvement hinh anh 1A food stall in Hang Bong Street, Hanoi (Photo: VNA)

Efforts to improve the food service quality in Hanoi have spurred positive change, according to a recent review of a pilot programme that was implemented two years ago to encourage more hygienic street food options in 29 districts and towns.

The initiative, launched by the municipal health department, will provide additional training to vendors to teach them about food safety and hygiene regulations. If their food stalls comply with the regulations, they will be granted food safety certificates.

A series of fast food carts and shops have been set up along the participating streets over the past two years. Quan Thanh street, Ba Dinh district, was chosen to participate in the pilot programme.

The food vendors were given disposable gloves and medical checks-up. The local authorities have also opened training courses to raise awareness among vendors, consumers and food management officers on food safety and hygiene.

The awareness campaign has included direct communication, radio broadcasts and information provided during the action month on food safety and hygiene. The number of managers in the city who are knowledgeable about food safety regulations has reached 86 percent, up from 59.1 percent prior to the project's implementation.

The number of consumers who understand and follow food safety criteria has risen from 72.6 percent to 74 percent, while the same criteria for food vendors has risen sharply from 58 percent to 75 percent.

While checking food stalls on streets participating in the pilot programme, inspectors found violations such as raw ingredients with unclear origins. The effort to issue food safety certificates still remains slow, the Hanoi Moi newspaper reported.

The model is not easily implemented in a crowded city like Hanoi, experts said.

According to the report, some stall owners do not comply with basic regulations, such as wearing gloves when preparing food or keeping the bills of sale in order to prove where the food comes from. This is due to vendors' habits and hesitation to change, said officers in charge of food management within the districts.

Hong Duc Hanh, Deputy Director of the city's Department of Health, said violating stalls would not only be warned, but also handed strict punishments to ensure the effectiveness of the initiative. He advised consumers to stay away from stalls that are not eligible for food safety criteria, while encouraging consumers to report any violating individuals and unhygienic foods to local authorities.-VNA