Vietnam last year recorded 142 incidents of food poisoning, causing 25 deaths and sending more than 3,560 people to the hospital, the English-language Viet Nam News reports.
The newspaper reported on a workshop last week where Vietnam’s food safety was debated with the possibility of the government opening up much more information to the public.
Dr. Nguten Khac Hung, director of the Institute of Psychology and Law Education in Ho Chi Minh City, said the time has come for the government to enlist the public in a campaign for food safety.
The government needs to increase the awareness of the entire community about food safety and hygiene standards, Hung said. He suggested the government provide a special website with the records of businesses involved in unsafe food incidents.
According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Health, the Southeast Asian nation experienced more than 1,000 food poisoning incidents from 2004 to 2009, killing 298 people. The ministry said chemical contamination of food is a growing problem that is difficult to control.
Hung said in addition to making more effective use of TV, radio, and newspapers, but to use the internet to make information of businesses selling unsafe food more accessible.
Two Ho Chi Minh City officials did not necessarily disagree.
Phan Xuan Thao from the city’s Sub-Department of Animal Health, said he’d like to see companies that strictly comply with food safety regulations identified by city agencies so the public would know who they are.
Thao said penalties for food safety violations should be increased.
Phan Thi Viet Thu, who heads the city’s Office of Complaint Resolution for Consumers, said Vietnam currently requires only ingredients and county of origin on the food labels. He said his office gets many complaints about “poor quality” products.
Thu said protecting consumer rights is part of corporate social responsibility.
Hung said whatever is done, the most important thing is to raise community awareness about food safety and hygiene standards.© Food Safety News