Probe launched into customs food tests

HA NOI (VNS)— Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered the General Police Department for Crime Prevention to investigate 16 tonnes of allegedly tainted grass jelly after three ministries provided conflicting test results.

The VND1.1 billion (US$52,900) batch of grass jelly imported by the HCM City-based 3K Trade and Manufacture Co., Ltd Company from China arrived at Sai Gon Ports in late June.— Photo tienphong

The VND1.1 billion (US$52,900) batch of grass jelly imported by the HCM City-based 3K Trade and Manufacture Co., Ltd Company from China arrived at Sai Gon Ports in late June.

Jelly samples tested by the Ministry of Science and Technology's Quality Assurance and Testing Center 3 (QUATEST 3) showed the goods met safety standards. The Ministry of Health's Viet Nam Food Administration also confirmed the jelly conformed to national guidelines.

Yet test results of the samples taken on the same day using the same procedure by a different agency found the opposite.

The Viet Nam Customs's Department of Anti-smuggling Investigation took samples of the black and white jelly on July 1 and sent them to the Ministry of Public Security's Institute of Criminal Sciences for testing before letting the goods cross the border.

Results from the Institute of Criminal Sciences showed that both white and black grass jelly samples did not meet the safety standards that 3K had previously registered for the goods.

The arsenic content in the black grass jelly was found to be 18.5 times higher than the limit, while the mercury level was 11 times higher and the lead content 1.4 times higher.

The white grass jelly contained 7.4 times more mercury than the company's safety standards.

The jelly has since been held at Sai Gon Port.

"QUATEST 3 has strictly followed all Ministry of Health regulations on testing samples," Director General Ngo Quy Viet of the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality told Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

He added that QUATEST 3 had retested the same samples and the results had been similar to the initial findings.

Viet Nam Food Administration Deputy Director General Nguyen Thanh Phong argued that the jelly should have been cleared by customs because QUATEST 3 tests on the goods proved they met safety standards.

"Customs officials investigating smuggling or anything else is their own business," he said.

3K has imported 38 tonnes of grass jelly from China since last year, all of which has found its way onto the local market.

Vietnamnews

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