Scientific forum: Current situation and solutions on food safety in Vietnam

Posted at: MONday - 20/11/2017 08:39 - post name: Cộng tác viên

 
Mr. Pham Van Tan, Vice President cum General Secretary of VUSTA delivered opening speech at the Forum

Mr. Pham Van Tan, Vice President cum General Secretary of VUSTA delivered opening speech at the Forum

On the morning of October 31, 2017, in Hanoi, Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) held the scientific forum "Current situation and solutions on food safety in Vietnam"

The forum attracted the participation of nearly 60 participants, including scientists in the field of food safety, representatives of the Ministry of Health, relevant departments and representatives of member associations, affiliated science and technology organizations of VUSTA. Dr Pham Van Tan, Vice President cum Secretary General of VUSTA and Ms. Tran Viet Nga, Deputy Director of Food Safety Department, Ministry of Health co-chaired the Forum.

Food safety is always a concern of the whole society and in the present context, food safety has become a matter of special concern. The whole society raised a worry and panic about the problem of dirty food, unknown origin food, "never ever path from the stomach to the graveyard as fast and easy as now," the statement of senator Tran Trong Vinh (member of the National Assembly delegation of Hai Phong city) has been one of the warning bell about the risky lives of people directly related to food safety.

At the forum, representatives of the Food Safety Department, Ministry of Health said that the government and ministries in charge of this field have tried to strengthen management measures to prevent and repel dirty food, such as establishing a system of food safety management agencies from central to local levels: Inter-ministerial Circular No 13 regulates the responsibilities of the three ministries in the field of food safety; establishing 63 Food Safety sub-departments and 62 sub-departments of agro-forestry and fishery quality control; 100% of localities set up inter-sector management board on food hygiene and safety at all levels; Directive No 13/ CT-TTg emphasizes the strengthening of management responsibility on food safety. Despite many efforts, the food safety management has faced many challenges, including the shortage of financial and personnel resources, especially the lack of quantity and capacity of food safety managers, the cost for food safety management is low. In addition, there are still many small-scale processing establishments that do not meet the hygiene and safety conditions in the slaughtering process, thus causing difficulties for the food safety management.

Representatives and scientists from VUSTA who participated in the forum also discussed and contributed their ideas to improve the management efficiency and ensure quality of food safety in our country in the coming time.

Sharing about the Vietnamese legal system and organization towards the effective implementation of the SPS/EVFTA, Mr. Nguyen Tu Cuong, Vietnam Fisheries Association pointed out the difference in the implementation of the WTO’s Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) between Vietnam and other WTO members (SPS is the regulation on production targets and requirements related to food safety and animal and plant health safety). Vietnam now has three focal points of management: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Moreover, each focal point is divided into many management units, resulting to many difficulties, overlapping responsibility in the management of these units. Meanwhile the European Union has only one single agency in charge of the food safety management.

Another difference between Vietnam and the EU in implementing the SPS is that the EU has one question and answer (Q&A) point. Each country also has only one Q & A point, while Vietnam has three Q & A points in three ministries with equal function. According to Mr. Cuong, this is contrary to the SPS/WTO Agreement, making it difficult for countries to trade with Vietnam, while the SPS Q & A points of Vietnam is passive and not efficient.

Mr Cuong also suggested that in the coming time, the system of legal documents on SPS should be reviewed; it is also necessary to compile textbooks and dissemination materials on SPS; select staff working in agencies related SPS and socialize the testing work to ensure good implementation of the SPS Agreement.

Sharing the viewpoint with Mr Cuong, Ms Bui Thi Kim, President of Vietnam Food Safety Science and Technology Association said that Vietnam should have a unified Food Safety Management Agency, other wise this will make the issue of ensuring food safety in the long term remains a persistent problem.

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Mr. Nguyen Tu Cuong, Vietnam Fisheries Association

Sharing about the experience of supplying safe food, Ms Bui Thi An, Hanoi Union of Science and Technology Associations introduced the supermarket chain model "Safe Meal". Supermarket system "Safe Meal" operates under the supervision of government management agencies such as Department of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development Department, Industry and Trade Department, Hanoi Union of Science and Technology Association, press agencies and consumers. Ms. An said that the program "Safe Meal" is the connection of 5 partners: the government, scientists, entrepreneurs, journalists and consumers. The difference of the supermarket system " Safe Meal " is that the selected enterprises  supply food in these supermarkets must have a certificate of food safety, issued by Agriculture and Rural Development, Industry and Trade, Health Departments of provinces and cities. The enterprise is committed to and be responsible for the food quality to every table of consumers.

This is a non-profit program run by Hanoi Union of Science and Technology Associations that contributes to protect the health of consumers and creates trust and gain much interest and support from the consumers of Hanoi.

In addition, the participants at the forum also shared many ideas, to sum up, it is necessary to have a comprehensive system of solutions including government management, knowledge communication, production and consumption culture of society to ensure food safety and health of the Vietnamese people in the coming time.

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Ms. Bui Thi An, Hanoi Union of Science and Technology Associations

On behalf of VUSTA’s leaders, Dr. Pham Van Tan, Vice President of VUSTA, has recognized the enthusiastic opinions of scientists. After the workshop, VUSTA will continue to collect opinions of scientists and readers who are interested in the scientific forum on Dat Viet Newspaper about current situation and solutions for food safety in Vietnam and then send official comments to the authorities to contribute to the good implementation of food safety in Vietnam in the coming time.

Author: Bich Hong
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