Demand for dried food, such as: Chinese sausage, beef jerky, dried fish, dried cuttlefish, and sugar-coated fruits has rocketed prior to Tet holidays. Despite authorities’ effort to control food safety on this kind of food, there were still dried food products with no labels, unclear origin, and insanitation in the market.
Labeling on demand
|Dried food products are checked strictly quality and safety before displaying at supermarkets (Photo: SGGP)|
Dried food products are usually checked thoroughly to ensure quality and safety at supermarkets. But at traditional markets, there is no such tight control on the input. Many traders are displaying dried food products in plastic bags without labels and expiry dates. They even pack dried food with any brand if buyers require. Thus, these products of prestigious brands are easily being mixed with low quality ones by dishonest traders for bigger profits.
Due to ambiguousness in quality, the prices of dried food sold at markets are much cheaper than those of well-known brands sold at supermarkets. At markets, beef jerky of average quality was sold at VND350,000 per kilogram; crispy and cube ones were sold at VND450,000 per kilogram; dried shredded cuttlefish was sold at VND300,000 per kilogram; and dried flattened cuttlefish was sold at VND670,000 per kilogram. Meanwhile, at supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City, the price of dried shredded beef jerky varies from VND400,000 to VND700,000 per kilogram, and dried shredded cuttlefish was at VND500,000 per kilogram.
Mr. Cao Van Thanh, deputy head of Binh Tay Market Management Board, affirmed that dried food must be tested strictly before being sold at Binh Tay Market. By Tet holidays, the demand for dried food jumped, so the market’s management board has checked them more frequently.
The board has also formed inspection delegations to check and remind traders about food safety for Tet. If traders are found to sell unsafe food, they will be warned via loudspeakers in the market. If they continue to violate standards on food safety, they will be suspended their business operation from 1 to 3 days.
In 2014, the Ho Chi Minh City’s Market Surveillance Agency uncovered and punished 18 cases for selling out-of-date food, food with unclear origin, and unsafe food. The agency seized and destroyed nearly 20,000 kilogram of dried food which included beef jerky, dried cuttlefish, dried fish, and Chinese sausages.
Mr. Phan Hoan Kiem, head of the Ho Chi Minh City’s Market Surveillance Agency, said that the amount of food gathered at traditional markets was very high which created favorable conditions for dishonest traders to mix low quality dried food into the high quality ones to sell to consumers. Therefore, inspectors should take food samples for tests constantly. If the quick tests show any suspicion, the whole batch of goods should be sealed for closer check.
Ms.Pham Thi Viet Thu, vice chairwoman of the Consumer Protection Association of Ho Chi Minh City, said that consumers should only use food with clear origin to protect their health, explaining that consumer should also keep the invoices when buying food just in case the food is of poor quality so that they can claim for their money.