The public is expressing outrage after MSG maker Vedan, which was found last year responsible for heavily polluting the Thi Vai River in Dong Nai Province, was among the recipients of a title handed out recently in Ho Chi Minh City.
The “Safe Product for Community Health” certification was bestowed on Vedan along with more than 50 other businesses at a ceremony in the city on October 11.
The certification was given out by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the HCM City Center for Trademark and Quality Development Consultancy (NATUSI).
Speaking to the media on October 26, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan, who presented the award, said it was simply a “certificate,” and not a “prize” as media reported.
He said the ministry had also asked its representative office in HCM City to write a report on the issue.
Vedan was acknowledged this year for producing three safe products including MSG, and the certificate was issued by NATUSI, not the ministry, Mr. Quan said.
Responding to questions about why a company accused of heavy environmental contamination was being rewarded with such an honor, Mr. Quan said that Vedan’s products should not be blamed for the company’s pollution.
He said Vedan’s production process was what caused the pollution, but the products themselves were not harmful to consumers’ health.
In response to speculation that Vedan was being honored indirectly for recently donating VND100 million (over US$5,500) to victims of typhoon Ketsana in central provinces, Mr. Quan said: “I don’t believe it’s true that whenever a company donates money, it will be given an award.”
“All candidates must meet the criteria of the award if they are to be honored,” he added.
The HCM City office of the Ministry of Science and Technology will send an official report to the ministry’s head office today about issues related to Vedan’s product safety certification.