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Strengthening the implementation of solutions for ensuring food safety and hygiene Update 24-06-2020 03:09
How to settle the issue of food safety and hygiene that is developing complicatedly and affecting people’s health is always a great concern for every consumer and Dong Nai province has made a lot of great efforts to deal with this issue, thereby strengthening various solutions from managing, handling violations as well as promoting the dissemination of propaganda information to attract consumers’ attention to safe food.

Marching for the action month for food safety


In recent years, there have still existed inadequacies concerning food safety in Dong Nai province. Particularly, some cases of mass food poisoning have still occurred, making a lot of people suffer. According to Mr. Nguyen Van Huu, Director of Dong Nai Bureau of Food Safety and Hygiene at Department of Health, there have been 6 food poisoning cases with 145 victims including a death due to eat a mangrove horseshoe crab since early this year. In the previous years, most food poisoning incidents occurred in canteen kitchens but mainly in schools and street food places this year. One of the main reasons is that most of businesses and facilities selling foods in front of schools, school canteens, and smalled and scattered food suppliers for wedding parties. In addition, supervision and inspection have not been tightened, which results in high risk of food poisoning cases.


Mass food poisoning cases have caused a lot of people to suffer. For instance, not long ago 22 students at Hung Loc primary school in Hung Loc commune in Thong Nhat district had to be hospitalized in the medical center of Thong Nhat district for emergency on December 15 due to food poisoning with such symptoms as abdominal pain, dizziness, and nausea.


Not only food poisoning cases at schools but also those at wedding parties have tended to increase with 2 cases in Thong Nhat and Tan Phu districts affecting 31 victims. After attending wedding parties, dozens of people suffering from gastrointestinal disorders and acute diarrhea were hospitalized for treatment, and diagnosed for eating contaminated food.


The risk of food poisoning in canteen kitchens has still been high. One of the main reasons is that the cost of industrial meals in some businesses is still lower than VND13,000 whereas Vietnam Labor Federation Labor has called for businesses to increase it up to at  least VND15,000 for an industrial meal. In addition, businesses are still not interested in investing in infrastructure for canteen kitchens and in some places infrastructure is deteriorating, failing to meet requirements for hygiene.

Therefore, in the forthcoming time the health sector will increase its unexpected food safety and hygiene inspections at school canteens; ask schools to perform bidding for canteen business so that canteen owners can invest in infrastructure and ensure food safety; offer training courses to managers and food handlers so that they can grasp fundamental knowledge of the risk of food poisoning and processing to ensure food safety.


Due to the poor value of meals, some businesses have not paid attention to providing food handlers with knowledge of food safety. For example, there is a business where a series of food safety incidents have occurred. Particularly, in the past years Mien Que Trading and Manufacturing Co., Ltd in Nhon Trach 2 Industrial Park in Nhon Trach district has had two food safety incidents with 229 hospitalized cases due to eating allergenic foods like giant elephant ear or food with too much sodium glutamate. This was not a food poisoning but a food safety incident due to the fact that the process of handling giant elephant ear handlers forgot to remove all the skin of this plant and then soak them in salty water to reduce the level of resin from the plant, which might cause an itch on eaters’ throats and tongues.


Strengthening the inspection activities to ensure food safety


In order to reduce food poisoning cases in canteen kitchens, in the coming time the health sector will enhance its training on self-inspection and supervision for canteen kitchens as well as focus more on sample supervision; and step up food traceability to promptly detect, warn and prevent food poisoning cases.


According to Dr. Phan Huy Anh Vu, Deputy Director of Dong Nai Department of Health, since the previous years the health sector has not only managed but also regularly inspected these places closely. Each year, the health sector conducts inspection and supervision twice. Particularly, the State Prime Minister asked to inspect businesses only once a year, so the health sector checked these places once, managed them on file through their contracts of supplying daily input food materials. In addition, labor unions and health care assistants of businesses must monitor food resources every day. In particular, input additives must also have tags that mention origins clearly.


In addition to relying on the health sector’s resources to control and disseminate propaganda information on food safety to industrial meal suppliers, canteen kitchens are required to coordinate with both the Agriculture sector and the Industry and Trade sector. Over the past years, these three sectors have jointly organized 10 training courses on VietGAP, food safety, and so on.


During the peak time, inter-sector inspection teams will also intensify their inspection at canteen kitchens and coordinate with newspaper and radio agencies to report on violations and provide information on sources of safe foods, especially sources of safe pork.


Also, according to Dr. Phan Huy Anh Vu, Deputy Director of the Department of Health, in the coming year the provincial health sector will develop a project to set up a food safety testing laboratory at Dong Nai Center for Pharmaceutical Testing and Cosmetics to take samples and do tests on food safety and hygiene criteria instead of having to send samples to Ho Chi Minh city. By doing this, the health sector will be able to detect more violations and find a basis for strictly handling these violations. In addition, levels of authorities and functional agencies will have to participate more strongly to ensure food safety for people in the province.


Duy Minh (An Nhien)

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