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13/12/17: HCM City food safety levels low


Unhygienic: A wet market in HCM City. Experts admit food safety is low in the city and say people should buy food only from supermarkets or reputable shops.

“Animal slaughter, transport and distribution [outside these sources] are not safe or hygienic,” Pham Khanh Phong Lan, head of the HCM City Food Safety Commission, admitted at a conference yesterday on food safety.

“HCM City will tighten its oversight, eliminate all manual slaughterhouses and temporary markets, and pilot a safe-food market model.”

Dr Nguyen Vu Thuong, deputy head of the Pasteur Institute, announced the results of a survey made by the institute between April and August this year.

It took 150 samples of chicken, duck and pork from Ba Ria–Vung Tau, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai and HCM City and found higher than permitted levels of E. coli in all of them. E. coli can cause severe food poisoning.

Besides, 70 per cent of seafood sample were found to have the bacterium, 17 per cent of them at high levels.

The presence of the bacterium was caused by poor hygiene at abattoirs and shops and lack of safe water, Lan said.

“Although all 150 samples were infected with the bacterium, it does not mean that no fresh meat or seafood in these five provinces and city is good enough to eat, but it does point to the fact that unsafe and unhygienic food is common.

“The situation requires more efforts by relevant authorities and response from the community.”

HCM City Food Safety Commission was launched early this year to ensure health and quality of living for people in the city.

The commission focused on strengthening inspections, tests, and technical barriers to prevent unsafe food from being consumed.

Inspections at all wholesale markets in the city are now being conducted because food safety has not been ensured at these sites and markets are still the main traditional shopping source of city residents.

The commission develops chains of safe food and carried out trading in food products with clear origins and under Vietnamese and global good agricultural practices.

Lan said the food safety commission was in charge of administrative reform to reduce red tape for enterprises.

In recent years, many kinds of food produced in the country and other countries have been sold in city markets.

However, many of them have substandard quality and have not been controlled well thus they cause worries for the city’s 10 million residents.

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