It is high time to set alarm bells ringing about food poisoning as there were two food poisoning cases in two concessive weeks causing hundreds of workers to be hospitalized in the southern province of Binh Duong and Ho Chi Minh City.
The government has neglected control over material and hygiene condition in food caterers for workers in factories, companies, industrial parks and export processing zones
Two food poisoning cases raised workers’ concern lately. Nearly 200 workers at Meraki factory in Song Than Industrial Zone in the southern province of Binh Duong were hospitalized on July 22 as they suffered pain in belly and diarrhea; some of them also vomited.
One previous week, nearly 100 workers of Lap Sinh Leather Company in Linh Chieu Commune in HCMC’s Thu Duc District were also taken to hospital for food poisoning after dinner on July 15. Because workers received timely treatment, they are all safe.
The Food Administration of Vietnam under the Ministry of Health had to conduct an investigation of food poisoning in Simone Company in Tan Huong Industrial Park in the Mekong delta province of Tien Giang in April causing 120 workers to be hospitalized.
One day before, nearly 300 workers of a company in Long Hau Industrial Park in the Mekong delta province of Long An were rushed to hospital for food poisoning. The number of poisoned workers is so many that hospitals in HCMC had to send medical workers to help their counterparts in Long An.
According to the Food Administration of Vietnam, during 5 years, the country had 84 food poisoning cases in industrial and export processing zones, infecting 6,566 workers and hospitalizing 6,059. Though there have been no report of death, infected cases tend to increase.
Food could become contaminated at any point during slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, transportation and preparation, reported the administration.
Through investigation, related agencies concluded that a meal for workers cost too cheap. Deputy head of the Department of Food Poisoning supervision under the Food Administration Cao Van Trung said that he surprised to know a meal in Meraki FW Company cost just VND15,000-16,000 (US$0.68-0.73) adding that food caterers could not use good and fresh ingredients for meals at such cheap price.
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long has recently said at a meeting on food safety in the northern province of Thai Nguyen that through investigation inspectors realized that many enterprises ordered a meal at VND10,000-12,000 (US$0.45-0.54) including profit for food caterers.
Chief of the city’s Department of Food Safety and Hygiene Huynh Le Thai Hoa said that the city has had 3,618 collective kitchens and 124 food caterers. However, as per a study carried out by the city Nutrition Center, 30 percent of workers in industrial zones suffer malnutrition. This is a danger especially for pregnant workers and female workers.
According to the World Health Organization’s warning, Vietnam may be marked as the country with fastest increasing rate of cancer in the world because of using dangerous chemicals to mix with food.