Vietnam: Food poisoning alarm in Delta
of Article: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=06SOC210309
DONG THAP — The
number of food poisoning cases has risen alarmingly in Dong Thap
Province, says Dr Nguyen Ngoc An, director of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta
province’s health department.
The situation had
been made worse by unusual climate conditions, low public awareness of
proper hygiene, and increasing violations of food safety regulations, An
said, noting that three major outbreaks of food poisoning, affecting a
total of 40 people, had occurred in Dong Thap in 2008.
In order to better
enforce food safety and hygiene regulations, An said Dong Thap planned to
launch a month-long campaign on April 15 to raise awareness of the issue
among both consumers and business.
campaign, we will focus inspection on food production and business
establishments that are at a high risk of causing food poisoning,"
he said. "Violators will be fined or have their business licences
revoked, depending on their violation, while their products will be
The problem has
continued to worsen, but authorities lack qualified, professional staff
or equipment to deal with it, according to Dr Vo Ngoc Bich, deputy head
of the faculties of nutrition and food safety and hygiene at the Dong
Thap provincial Preventive Medicine Centre.
The province was
home to about 9,000 food-service and processing establishments and three
industrial zones which draw thousands of workers, but specialised food
safety and hygiene personnel were inadequate in numbers and resources,
The lack of staff
had kept the province from being able to issue or enforce food safety
standards, she added.
Over 80 out of the
142 communes had set up food safety and hygiene inspection teams, but
most lacked training, she noted.
The problems has not
been limited to Dong Thap, with provinces throughout the Delta region
reporting a rise in food poisoning outbreaks.
In Tra Vinh
Province, six outbreaks were recorded, affecting over 500 people.
Agencies there discovered 3,770 establishments violating food safety and
hygiene regulations between 2004 and 2008, but only 185 violators were
fined for a total of only VND97.7 million (US$5,700).
In An Giang
Province, agencies inspected 8,575 out of 14,000 food-handling
establishments in 2008 and performed around 2,800 tests relating to food
safety and hygiene, according to provincial data.
Hau Giang Province
employed only three staff for food safety and hygiene inspections, and
Nguyen Van Muoi, deputy director of the Hau Giang health department, said
the set-up remained unprofessional and inadequate. — VNS