The Vietnam National Assembly Standing Committee rejected Minister of Health Nguyen Quoc Trieu’s proposal to set up a National Committee for Food Safety last week. The proposed committee would have been made up of officials from related ministries within the Vietnamese government.
Trieu argued that the committee would help ensure the safety of food produced by Vietnam’s 9.4 million farm households as well as food sold at small markets and along Vietnam’s borders, where food is imported daily.
“This committee will help reduce overlaps and clearly define responsibility,” said Trieu. “If anything happens, the National Assembly will only need to question this committee, not several ministries. At present, at least three ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Industry-Trade are involved in this task.”
Le Quang Binh, Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Defense and Security, argued that ministers and deputy ministers who have to join committees or steering boards rarely attend committee meetings and instead send assistants because they do not have time to attend all meetings.
“The establishment of the National Committee for Food Safety is contrary to the current policy,” commented National Assembly Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu. “On the other hand, food control is the mission of many ministries and sectors. If this committee is set up, it will make disorder.”
In rejecting the proposed committee, the Standing Committee agreed to draft a bill on food safety, which will be finalized for approval in the Vietnam National Assembly session in May. The bill will give joint responsibility for controlling food hygiene and safety to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Each ministry’s role in protecting food hygiene will be outlined in the bill.