Mr Do Thanh Lam, Deputy Head of the Market Management Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), told VET's Huyen Thanh about its role in managing food safety, especially at supermarkets and modern retail outlets.
How has the Agency managed the implementation of food safety regulations at modern retail outlets since 2013?
In terms of inspecting and resolving legal violations at supermarkets and modern retail outlets, Document No 228/QLTT-KSCLHH was issued and sent to branches of the Agency in cities and provinces on March 20 this year. Branches were required to ensure adherence to regulations on quality standards at supermarkets and commercial centres, focus on supervising food safety and goods quality, and strictly handle any violations, with results to be publicised in the media. The Agency has also established two teams to supervise the enforcement of regulations on business activities at four supermarkets in Hanoi, including two foreign ones and two domestic ones. We have focused on supervising and handling administrative violations regarding food safety, quality, origin, expiry dates, trademarks, and trade promotion activities for food products sold at supermarkets. The Agency has issued four decisions to impose fines of VND183.3 million ($8.36 million) in total for the trade of commodities with incorrect contents on the labels or processing and preserving food in areas lacking hygiene standards.
Supermarkets have said they have strong processes in place to check food quality, but there are still many cases of hygiene violations identified by consumers. What comment would you care to make about this?
They are required to regularly check or send food samples to testing centres. According to the Ho Chi Minh City Plant Protection Department, sometimes the supply of food products has been unstable, with traders mixing “healthy and clean” vegetables with unsafe vegetable to earn more profits. Many cases were detected where vegetables contained chemicals but at permitted levels.
Do you think ensuring food safety rests with supermarkets or the relevant management authorities?
Food safety requires quality in the entire process, from breeding or growing to processing, packing, distribution and consumption. The responsibility lies with everyone, from management authorities to producers, traders and consumers.