During an inspection of food safety at local moon cake manufacturing workshops in Tan Phu District yesterday, the Food Inspection Team of Tan Phu District Health Preventive Center was shocked at the poor hygienic conditions there.
Moon cake filling is contained in large mixing bowls at Nam Long workshop
Just a few minutes before the inspection team arrived there, employees of the workshop had stopped working, but powder and pasty filling still remained here and there near the baking ovens on the ground floor. Adjacent to the baking ovens is a row of dirty toilets.
On the first floor of the factory is the site used for processing the filling. On the floor were large mixing bowls full of pasty filling consisting of mung beans, peanuts, candied pumpkin, and gingersnaps. On the trays on the table were unbaked moon cakes swarming with flies and ants.
The owner of the workshop told the inspection team that they have manufactured moon cakes for many years now, approximately one ton each season. These moon cakes are sold at prices ranging from VND 2,000 to VND 3,000. However, when asked to produce the workshop’s certificate of food hygiene and safety, the owner failed to do so.
The inspection team then proceeded to another moon cake manufacturing workshop in Hiep Tan Ward, which concealed itself behind a mechanical workshop. The inspection team was shocked at the sanitary condition there as well. The workshop is just 40 sq. meters in area. Cockroaches and ants were swarming over the ground and on 300 –liter plastic buckets containing sugar water used for making moon cake coats. There is a small, dirty toilet located next to the baking oven.
The owner said that her moon cakes’ trade mark was Tan Binh, a very famous one on the market, but she could not present any certification papers. In fact, this is just an illegal manufacturing workshop that has produced moon cakes under the trade mark of a prestigious factory for years.
When asked about disciplinary measures against the manufacturing workshops that violated regulations on food hygiene and safety, Mr. Nguyen Van Kiep, a high-ranking official of the District Health Preventive Center, said that the center will report the cases to the Inspection of the Department of Health.
It should be noted that a month before the season of Mid-Autumn festival, the Department of Health set up inspection teams to inspect the sanitary condition of the production of moon cakes within HCM City. The Inspection Team of the Department of Health is responsible for inspecting large factories while inspection teams of Health Preventive Centers of wards and districts inspect local workshops.
Reports from inspections revealed that many workshops have violated regulations on food hygiene and safety; for instance, their production conditions do not meet the standards required and workers do not wear gloves when making cakes and do not have regular health checks as regulated.
Despite local inspection teams’ reports on violations, the Inspection of the Department of Health has not yet brought forward any measures against violators while thousands of unsafe moon cakes are still in free circulation on the market.
On September 10, 2007, PM Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decision No. 149/2007/QD-TTg to approve the National Food Hygiene and Safety Program for the 2006-2010 stage.