Improving awareness of food hygiene and safety, especially among women, is key to reducing the incidence of food poisoning, Tran Thanh Binh, deputy chairwoman of the Vietnam Women's Union , has said.

Speaking at a workshop organised by the union and the Vietnam Food Administration in Ho Chi Minh City on Aug. 24, Binh explained that women account for 50 percent of the population and have a predominant role in making food and caring for the family.

"If they are provided the right information and scientific knowledge about choosing and processing food, they would be good to educate the public about food safety and hygiene," she said.

The workshop aims to encourage women to say no to unsafe food and additives.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, the administration's deputy head, warned that using additives not permitted by the Ministry of Health and overusing even approved ones could cause food poisoning.

For example, one gramme of borax, used illegally to keep certain foods fresh, could cause diarrhoea and vomiting, while 15gramme of it could cause death, he said.

All over the world additives are widely used. The Codex Committee on Food Additives, an international body that regulates the use of additives, allows the use of 700 kinds of additives and more than 2,000 kinds of condiments in food.-VNA