Pig carcasses are carried uncovered on a motorbike in Hanoi (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - It’s time local people had access to food products that met the same high standards as those the country exported, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a meeting held in Hanoi on June 27 to review the activities in the first six months of the National Inter-Sector Steering Committee on Food Safety.

According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong, in the first half of the year, coordination among the Government, ministries, sectors, localities and social organisations had brought about significant and positive developments for food safety.
 
A report by the ministry said that all provinces had been developing standardised food supply chains. More than 1,200 agriculture supply chains had been set up with more than 3,100 showrooms.

Conferences and training on food safety had been organised for more than 35,000 individuals involved in food sales and production. Inspection teams specialising in food safety had also been trained by the Ministry of Health in nine provinces and cities.

There are currently 182 food safety and hygiene testing units nationwide, run by the health and agriculture ministries.

In the first six months of the year, market watchdogs across the country detected and handled more than 56,000 facility owners who violated food safety regulations out of the 347,000 facilities inspected.

The Ministry of Health and authorities in 63 provinces and cities imposed total administrative fines of 24 billion VND (1.05 million USD) on 8,400 facility owners in the food sales and production sector.

The ministry has also been piloting an online system for food safety information and management in order to avoid inaccuracies and slack updates on food safety data like food poisoning and management violations. The ministries of agriculture and trade are now working on the completion of the system.

Participants at the meeting also highlighted some of the main focuses such as the use of plant protection chemicals, antibiotics and veterinary medicines in agriculture and fishery production. Cross-border food smuggling was also a matter for concern.

Cuong said the demand for high quality and standardised food products had been increasing among the community and consumers now had the tools to trace food origins.

Deputy PM Dam agreed, saying this was a good sign. “We need to strengthen communications on food safety violations. It’s time that all Vietnamese people had access to the same sort of high quality food we export,” he said.

In the last six months of the year, the Deputy PM asked agencies to strengthen inspections on food safety, especially at small and individual food sales and processing units.

A survey by the market research firm Indochina Research earlier this year revealed that food safety was among the issues that concerned urban Vietnamese people the most.

The survey, which interviewed more than 300 people aged 18 to 60 in the country's biggest cities Hanoi  and HCM City,  said 86 percent identified food safety as the most pressing social concern.-VNA