MARD tightens food safety, hygiene controls

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plans to hold more unscheduled inspections of food hygiene and safety in food production and trading this year.

Farmers in Van Noi Commune of Hanoi’s Dong Anh District harvest vegetable. The commune is well known for providing safe vegetables for Hanoi. (Photo: VNS)

Speaking at a conference on food quality, safety and hygiene in the agricultural sector yesterday, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that food hygiene and safety was still a problem and directly impacted society.

The ministry plans to prioritise supervising the use of agricultural materials, especially pesticides due to the risk of serious environmental pollution. Any substance containing chemicals that harm people or the environment will be banned.

Last year, the ministry banned 300 kinds of pesticides.

In terms of fertilizer, Minister Cuong said it was necessary to promote switching from inorganic to organic fertilizer.

Each year, up to 12 millions of tonnes of inorganic fertilizer is used for agriculture, causing pollution and reducing the quality of agricultural products.

The ministry will also focus on improving awareness in society about food hygiene and safety regulations.

Nguyen Van Viet, chief inspector of the ministry, said that the inspection teams would keep close watch of drinking water for cattle and chemicals used on shrimps. The teams would also inspect the responsibilities of local authorities in managing agricultural materials and food hygiene.

Reports from the ministry showed that last year’s percentage of pork contaminated with Salbutamol, a banned substance to stimulate growth in animals that can affect human health, was 0.44. The percentage of the previous year was 1.07 percent.

In the last six months of last year, no samples were found to contain the banned substance.

The percentage of vegetables containing pesticides was 4.1 percent, a reduction of 3.66 percent compared to the previous year.

Authorised agencies inspected more than 21,360 businesses in agriculture, forestry and aquaculture and found 1,923 businesses to be in violation of the law.

According to Nguyen Nhu Tiep, head of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Quality Management, this year, the department aims to reduce biological and chemical residues and antibiotics in the production of agriculture, meeting requirements for domestic consumption and the export market.

The rate of samples containing pesticides in vegetables and chemical residue in meat and seafood is expected to be reduced by 10 percent compared to last year by the end of this year.

The department will also improve food chains to ensure food safety for people in all cities and provinces.
So far, 50 cities and provinces have built 444 food chains with safe agricultural, forestry and seafood products with clear origins.

In Hanoi alone, 60 food chains were set up with licenses from authorized agencies. The number in HCM City was 32.

At the conference, Minister Cuong asked localities to tighten controls and enhance the responsibilities of leaders. He also urged authorities to increase high-tech application on agriculture and food chain production, encouraging potential enterprises to invest in agricultural production.

Source: VNS

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