Poor milk quality raises public concern

Customers are concerned over nutritional content and quality indicators of milk products, while the government can only test basic ingredients. Questions have been raised as to how customers can choose the right milk. The issue was discussed at a meeting held by the Ministry of Health (MoH), the newspaper Suc Khoe va Doi Song (Health and Life) and relevant agencies on August 26 in Hanoi.

Ho Tat Thang(1, L) and Hoang Thuy Tien (3, L) at the meeting (Photo: SK&DS)

There are varieties of dairy products on the market that are either imported or locally-made, said Ho Tat Thang, vice chairman of the Vietnam Standard and Consumers Association (VINASTAS). It has influenced the management and control of the quality.

VINATAS’s tests pointed out that baby formula, milk powder and other products have much lower protein contents than their labels indicated. Moreover some of manufacturers that fail to meet food hygiene and safety requirements still operate its activities.

Parents also raised their concern over nutrition and vitamin content in milk, especially foreign ones with impressive claims that they have DHA, ARA and Tourine supplements, supposedly helping brain development.

Customers wonder how much these substances are present in milk and whether they really have good effects on the growth of Vietnamese children. Relevant agencies should clarify the situation, Mr. Thang stressed.

In addition, present advertising of dairy products could cause misunderstanding among customers, which violates the law.

Meanwhile, Hoang Thuy Tien, deputy head of Vietnam Food Administration, admitted that his department can not test all milk products and can only check basic ingredients of protein, fat and whether microorganisms are present.

The number of low quality dairy products has fallen 30 percent compared to the same period last year, Mr. Tien added.

To protect customers’ rights, VINATAS and MoH will take samples of domestically-made and imported milks for tests and announce the full information in the media to help customers choose, according to Mr. Thang.

Research carried out by the National Institute of Nutrition on 540 Vietnamese children to compare the effects of domestic dairy products and their foreign counterparts proved that both groups have the same growth of height, yet kids of the group drinking local milks weighed more than the other group.

The paradox is that the prices of imported milk are 2.5 times higher than local products despite having the same ingredients, nutritional value and effects.

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By Q.Lap - translated by Uyen Phuong

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