Further sampling, testing needed to clarify central fish quality: health official

Wider sampling needs to be conducted in different waters to have a clearer answer about seafood quality in the north central region, where has been badly affected by the wastewater discharge by Taiwanese Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh steel company.

The Vietnam Food Safety Administration advices citizens to eat seafood caught 20 nautical miles offshore in the north central region (Photo: SGGP)

The statement was made yesterday by Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, head of the Vietnam Food Administration under the Ministry of Health, while talking to the press about issues related to seafood testing results in four affected central provinces including Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.
Although authorized agencies have announced sea water to be safe for swimming and fishing after the Formosa environmental disaster, the ministry and the administration still instruct their local agencies to continue taking offshore fish samples for testing, Mr. Phong specified.
The Ministry of Health has just tested the concentration of substances listed in food safety regulations such as heavy metals not phenol and cyanide.
Moreover, there have no international regulations on the level of these two substances in seafood.
The ministry had four times invited representatives from the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization to work on the issue. They all asserted that there have no regulations on phenol and cyanide in food. So it is impossible to affirm if the two substances affect human health or not, Mr. Phong stressed.
Therefore, he advised people to only eat fish caught at least 20 nautical miles offshore.  In principle, seafood caught in the north central region should not be consumed until the Formosa environmental incident is thoroughly settled, he added.
According to the latest report sent by the Food Safety and Hygiene Testing Institute to the ministry , five of fish samples taken from some waters off Cam Xuyen district, Ha Tinh province contained cyanide and three contained phenol.
Still in an annoucement sent from the administration on August 24, seven out of 27 fish samples had heavy metal higher than permissible level in July, the number reduced to only one out of 18 samples on August 19.
In response to the press’ query why testing results were contradictory each other and inconsistent, Mr. Phong said there was no contradiction because samples had been taken in different places and at different times.
He said authorized agencies should pay attention to sea environment quality in the region after testing results showed phenol and xyanua contaminated seafood.
Especially, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is the management organ of seafood quality so it should work to answer residents about this issue.

By Minh Khang – Translated by Hai Mien

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