Inspectors are examining all facilities processing bivalve mollusc products for export to European Union (EU) countries from November 24 to early December, the National Agriculture-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) announced on November 20.

The move is prompted by the EU’s detection of violations of food safety regulations for the products during the September 9-18 fact-finding tour by a delegation of the Food and Veterinary Office under the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers.

The mission found that Vietnamese blanched noble scallop (Mimachlamys Nobilis) flesh had not been heat-treated in accordance with EU standards before being exported to EU markets.

Meanwhile, processed noble scallops and ark clams (Anadara Subcrenata) shipped to the EU were found to originate from areas contaminated with lipophilic toxins.

Following the finding, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on November 17 requested the NAFIQAD and processors tightly monitor the processing process and re-train workers and quality managers in order to promptly fix violations found by EU inspectors.

The NAFIQAD was also asked to increase supervision over processing facilities and decline to award export certificates to those that fail to meet EU requirements, NAFIQAD Director Nguyen Nhu Tiep said.

According to Jean-Jacques Bouflet, Minister Counsellor and head of the Trade and Economic Section of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, the EU has yet to take any sanction measures against Vietnamese bivalve mollusc products in response to Vietnamese relevant agencies’ endeavours to address the problem.

He stressed that exporting companies must still stringently obey the EU’s current requirements though some may no longer be suitable for the reality.

After NAFIQAD completes their examinations, local bivalve mollusc processors will be re-checked by EU officials.

The processors are given six months to remedy their shortcomings and prove operations in line with EU standards.

In September, 2014, the NAFIQAD ordered a temporary suspension of the export of the offending products.

There are 47 Vietnamese businesses exporting bivalve mollusc to the EU at present, it said.-VNA