Vietnam outlines food safety goals
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) announced during a meeting in Ha Noi on Thursday that it plans to work with relevant agencies to examine and ensure food safety, which it identified as an urgent task.

Minister Cao Duc Phat said it was necessary to inform farmers of the health impacts associated with using banned substances and antibiotics, as well as the damage caused to farmers and enterprises, he said.

He urged localities to form safe food supply chains in big cities like Ha Noi and HCM City.

To tackle the issue of food safety violations, Phat said inspectors should strictly handle any breaches of safety standards. A list of production units that use banned substances will be publicised, he said, adding that emphasis will be placed on the safety of meat and vegetable products.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam proposed that agriculture and rural development departments in provinces and cities should set up designated places to sell safe food, especially with Tet (Lunar New Year) approaching.

Local consumers should be provided with information about places where they can buy safe food, he said.

Tam also said localities should organise trade fairs for safe food by linking production and supply chains between now and the Lunar New Year.

Food safety inspections in the first nine months of the year showed that the percentage of pesticide residue found in vegetables and fruits was 10.3 per cent, compared to between 6 and 8 per cent annually. Of the meat samples, 7.6 per cent surpassed allowable levels in terms of antibiotic and substance residues, according to the MARD.

Tran Trong Binh, deputy head of the Environment Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, said poor co-ordination among law enforcement agencies contributes to rampant use of forbidden substances in animal husbandry, as well as pesticide residue in vegetables and fruits.

He also said public information campaigns to promote safe products for consumption had not been effective.

Dinh Thi Phuong Khanh, deputy director of Long An Province's Agriculture and Rural Development Department, said criminal penalties should be imposed on violators who use banned substances in livestock. 

Ministry to get tough on banned substances in livestock farming

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has pledged that the ministry will do what it can to end the rampant use of prohibited substances in livestock farming to ensure food safety and protect consumers.

Speaking before the National Assembly (NA) in Hanoi on Tuesday, Phat said the ministry is acknowledgeable of consumers’ concern over food safety and hygiene, the ministry has identified cracking down on the rampant use of prohibited substances in livestock farming as one of the top priorities.

Inspection results in the January-September showed the use of such substances did not reduce compared to last year. In particular, 1.01% of the seafood samples taken in the period were found to contain higher chemical and antibiotic residues than the permissible levels. Besides, there were 10.3% of the vegetable samples with crop protection drug residue and 7.6% of the meat samples with antibiotics higher than allowed.

“Therefore, we are implementing a food safety and hygiene campaign until next February and adopted measures to redress the situation,” Phat said and added that one of the campaign’s objectives is to prevent the use of banned agents in livestock farming.

“We are committed to eliminating the use of such forbidden substances in livestock farming,” Phat said.

Phat made the commitment after NA deputies expressed concerns over weak management of the ministry for banned substances in livestock farming at a discussion the day before.

At the discussion, NA deputy Do Van Duong of HCMC requested the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to clarify the reasons and the responsibilities of those agencies and people involving in importing forbidden growth stimulants into Vietnam for local farm owners to make pigs grow fast and lean to earn higher profit.

Duong called on management agencies to make greater effort to prevent the import and use of such banned substances.

Regarding counterfeit fertilizers on the domestic market, Phat said the agriculture ministry is in charge of managing organic fertilizer products while the Ministry of Industry and Trade is responsible for overseeing inorganic products of this type.

There are 5,300 fertilizer brands on the domestic market, he said. He noted that many plants and crops grown in different parts of Vietnam and at different times need many specific kinds of fertilizers.

According to Phat, to reduce the high volume of counterfeit fertilizer products, the Government has told relevant ministries to draft and apply technical criteria for each type of fertilizer and require enterprises to strictly follow business conditions otherwise they will have their licenses revoked.

Deputy Nguyen Sy Cuong of Ninh Thuan Province said too many fertilizer products have made it hard for State agencies to manage and farmers to choose. Substandard fertilizers are blamed for low agricultural yields and quality.

Cuong said other countries do not license too many fertilizer brands like in Vietnam. Even Thailand with a developed agriculture sector has around 100 types of fertilizers.

Cuong quoted sources as saying that up to 7,000 types of fertilizer products can be found on the domestic market.

Cuong said the agriculture ministry should draft and standardize 100 kinds of fertilizers used for major crops and the trade ministry to be in charge of exporting and importing materials and fertilizers as well as licensing and supervising fertilizer production.

VNS

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