Products’ safety self declaration in Vietnam?

Decree No 15, effective since 2 February, 2018, will permit organisations and individuals producing and selling food to self-declare food-product origins and quality, replacing the long-standing method of keeping records at public management agencies and ask for authorizations.

According to local businesses, in the past, to apply for the certificate, an enterprise must prepare two sets of documents and each set had 11 different kinds of papers.

According to a survey of the Central Institute for Economic Management announced recently said that to apply for a food safety hygiene certificate, each enterprise must pay about VN$10 million (US$440), and VN$30 million (US$1,300) in some cases.

(Source: Vietnam Net, Vietnam Plus)

I am totally against the meaningless bureaucracy and very well aware of the global trend of shifting responsibilities to the food business operators and enhancing private-public cooperation control models: this is the future, since the competent authorities won’t have the means and the budgets to check everything. The number of checks to perform is too high and the type of controls too wide.

But, in a country where the food safety average level is still one of the worst worldwide (see one of the thousands of articles regarding the topic: link) maybe this is a too bald move: Vietnam, according to the above mentioned trend, is also strengthening the criminal and administrative sanctions for food safety violations and reviewing the existing food legislation, to protect domestic consumers and meet the strictest requirements of some importing countries (like the EU block itself).

My doubt is that in an environment still not characterized by a solid business culture, this decision would be a step back on this road.


Vietnam – New Penal Code provides stricter sanctions for food safety violations

“According to Vietnam’s amended Penal Code which took effect on Jan. 1, the slightest penalty for filthy food producers or traders is a fine of 50-200 million Vietnamese dong (2,200-8,800 U.S. dollars) or a jail term of 1-5 years, and the heaviest one is a jail term of 12-20 years, daily newspaper Tien Phong (Pioneer) reported.

The heaviest penalty is applied to serious food poisoning cases which sicken over 200 people or kill at least three people, or use large volumes of banned substances in foodstuffs.

Vietnam witnessed 111 food poisoning cases in 2017, which sickened 3,352 people and killed 22, said the country’s Preventive Health Department.

It saw 129 food poisoning cases that affected 4,127 people and claimed 12 lives in 2016.”

The news has been reported by the local press ( and the move is most welcome due to the poor state of food safety in the country (Vietnamese killing themselves with dirty food).