Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan held an online meeting to discuss safety and hygiene issues of food items within provinces and cities, after so many reported cases of decomposed suckling pigs, rotten meat and lean-meat agents in animal products.
Health minister Nguyen Thi Kiem Tien said that 2011 saw a decline in food poisoning compared to the previous year. In 2010, 51 people died of food poisoning while in 2011 there were only 27 deaths.
Although awareness of food safety among businesspersons and traders is now much higher, there have been violations which continue because of very low penalties and due to increased greed and quick profits.
Meanwhile, the Department of Market Management under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said they had seized 63 tonnes of unsafe foodstuffs such as confectioneries and beverage items, displayed on market shelves.
Provincial leaders thought that the main issues were food poisoning in large companies, dirty food in roadside restaurants and rampant use of toxic additives and chemicals by profit seekers.
The Department of Market Management proposed that large companies with over 1,000 workers must have their own kitchen, as outside caterers are careless on food safety and provide only sub-standard meals.
Deputy PM Nhan ordered a strict monitoring of food safety in 2012 and implementation of a food safety target from now until 2015.
He said the country is striving to produce safe vegetables, remove use of banned additives and maintain clean slaughterhouses.
The Deputy PM asked the Department of Market Management to check on food items that are smuggled via border crossings in six provinces. Safety and hygiene conditions of foodstuffs and related information should also be released to the media for public knowledge.