July 8, 2011


Vietnam gets stricter on imports of agri products



The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in Vietnam has more stringent requirements on agricultural products and imported foodstuffs through a new Law on Food Safety and Hygiene, implemented on July 1.


The ministry emphasised that importers of fruits, vegetables and animal feed must state clearly the origin of these commodities, or else relevant agencies will not allow their imports into the country.


Farmers in some countries used pesticides and chemicals to "polish" agricultural products to make them more appealing and the chemical contents exceeded permitted limits. The ministry hence enforced a law to test imported foodstuffs to protect Vietnamese consumers.


Nguyen Xuan Hong, chief of Department of Plant Protection said inspectors will not just check the origin of fruits, vegetables and foodstuffs, but also their chemical contents.


The problem Vietnam is currently facing is the country's lack of lab facilities and personnel to conduct tests and check harbours and borders crossings, according to Nguyen Nhu Tiep, head of the Department of National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance.


Most samples have to be sent back to centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and this procedure takes at least four days.


Hong said inspectors in 60 quality checking stations at border crossings, harbours and airports in the country check foodstuffs based on a hunch.


Tests are carried out only if inspectors suspect the foodstuffs are adulterated. There are only 17 labs for testing quality of fruits and vegetables in the country. Hence MARD is asking for more on a priority basis.


The shortage of labs and personnel allows goods to be cleared within 24 hours. However, relevant agencies will now tighten vigilance on businesses that have violated the law previously and increase the checking time.


Serious violators will be forced to return the imports back to the country of origin or face confiscation, said Hong.

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