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.

 

FVO report – Pesticides residues in table grapes from Peru

This report describes the outcome of a Food and Veterinary Office audit in Peru, carried out between 19 and 27 November 2014. The objective of the audit was to assess controls on pesticide residues in table grapes intended for export to the European Union. In particular, the audit team followed up on action taken by the Competent Authorities in response to recommendations made by the Food and Veterinary Office in report DG(SANCO)/2011-6061.

Weaknesses in the authorisation system mean that use of plant protection products in accordance with the label provides no assurance that the resultant produce will comply with Codex maximum residue levels.

The website of the National Service for Agricultural Health is not fit for purpose in terms of disseminating critical information regarding the safe use of plant protection products. While there is a system of controls on the marketing of plant protection products, products bearing non-approved labels are commonplace.

The programme of controls on growers has no dissuasive measures to penalise non-compliant growers, focusing instead on training. Both the system of private controls by growers and pack-houses and the National Service for Agricultural Health training programme for growers are of limited value in ensuring produce will be compliant with Codex maximum residue levels due to weaknesses in the authorisation system.

The range of analysis under the national residue control programme is not sufficiently broad to ensure that products are used correctly and that Codex maximum residue levels will be respected. The relatively high number of notifications from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed in 2014 stems primarily from product authorisation and labelling issues, rather than bad practices by growers. Neither the public or private systems currently in place to ensure that table grapes from Peru will be in line with European Union maximum residue levels are sufficiently effective.

While there is a systematic follow-up to notifications from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, the outcomes of investigations are not reported to the European Union. Three of the six recommendations from the previous audit, DG(SANCO)/2011-6061, have been satisfactorily addressed, and two recommendations partially addressed. The report makes a number of recommendations to the competent authorities, aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified and enhancing the implementation of control measures.