HCM CITY Consumers in Viet Nam should be encouraged to speak up about companies that violate food safety laws, the deputy health minister said during a special TV show broadcast live nationwide on Monday.
Speaking during a two-hour show on food safety and hygiene, Trinh Quan Huan said educational campaigns about food safety had raised consumer awareness but more work needed to be done.
The broadcast featured a panel of speakers, including business executives and members of the HCM City People s Committee, who spoke about the urgent need to enforce food safety regulations.
Huan said the State planned to invest more funds and offer more training to food safety inspectors.
A shortage of inspectors and funds in some provinces had limited successful implementation, he added.
"Both consumers and companies should consider food safety and hygiene standards as a top objective," Huan said.
Consumers can submit complaints and information about violators to the Viet Nam Standards and Consumer Association (VINASTAS).
Huan also encouraged companies to sign formal agreements with State offices and VINASTAS to ensure they are following food safety and hygiene standards.
Phung Huu Hao, deputy head of the Department for Agriculture, Forestry and Aquatic Product Quality Management, said provinces had not created food safety plans for the agriculture, forestry and aquaculture sectors.
To deter violators, Hao said that fines must be higher, and authorities who monitor food safety must work together closely.
He said the State had yet to issue regulations on the suspension or withdrawal of production licenses for companies charged with multiple violations of food safety regulations.
During the first six months of the year, the Department of Animal Husbandry said provinces nationwide handed out fines of VND177 million (US$9,833) for food safety violations.
In addition, they destroyed a total of 1,830 kilos of out-of-date and melamine-tainted animal feed.
Among other activities, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Aquatic Product Quality Management has inspected food safety and hygiene of ports, ships and aquatic product processing mills nationwide.
A representative of the Animal Health Department said it had managed to control the illegal import of animals as well as animal products through the country s bordergates. VNS