Deputy PM plans to clean up food industry, stop poisoning

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HA NOI— Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan has asked all the 63 provinces and cities to improve funding and human resources for hygiene and safety agencies to decrease the number of food poisoning cases.

The request came at the latest meeting of local leaders with the participation of ministries of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, Industry and Commerce, and Home Affairs.

Food Hygiene and Safety Department head Nguyen Cong Khan said the request was prompted by a large number of food poisoning cases and lack of officers and funds to police hygiene.

Department of Food Hygiene and Safety statistics show that since 2000, more than 49,700 people have become victims of 1,800 food poisoning cases.

In 2008 alone, there were 208 food poisoning cases. The department said about 80 per cent of food poisoning cases occured in collective kitchens of industrial zones and agencies because nearly 50 per cent of those facilities failed to meet regulations for food hygiene and safety.

It was agreed by the leaders of most provinces and cities that lack of funds and human resources made it difficult to enforce food hygiene and safety.

Few agencies

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Nguyen Duy Thang said more than 2,260 officers were active in agencies but only 36 provinces and cities had established the agencies.

Deputy chairman of Ha Noi People’s Committee Dao Van Binh said it was too difficult for 20 officers to control food hygiene and safety in a big city like Ha Noi. Besides, most of them had yet to be trained.

The heads of the commune’s health stations were leaders of inspection teams and their staff members of the team, Binh said.

Minister of Health Nguyen Quoc Trieu said provincial People’s Committees’ leaders should properly allocate their staff among agencies to work at food hygiene and safety.

The localities needed to report what they lacked so they could be supported.

It was necesary to have co-operation between relevant agencies, Trieu said.

Nhan wants plans drawn up, including itineraries for improving human resources for food hygiene and safety agencies, building safe markets and vegetable areas without chem-icals, and granting food safety certificates to collective kitchens or food manufacturers.

These will be submitted to the Government before the middle of July.

Deputy head of the National Assembly’s Science, Technology and Environment Committee Nguyen Dang Vang said it was necessary to draft the law on food hygiene and safety and tap the State budget for the work. — VNS





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