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.


Bulgaria – Organic control system flawed

This report describes the outcome of a DG Health and Food Safety audit in Bulgaria, carried out between 16 November 2015 and 27 November 2015, under the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official food and feed controls.

The objective of the audit was to evaluate the controls on organic production and labelling of organic products.

The report concludes that the control system in place in Bulgaria cannot provide assurance as regards compliance of the operators with the organic production rules. The supervision carried out by the Competent Authority failed to identify the systematic shortcomings in the performance of the Control Bodies.

The preparation and the timing of the inspection visits are often inadequate and the number of inspections assigned to inspectors is very high. As a result, controls are often superficial and inspectors do not identify gross non-compliances. Even if major irregularities are found, they are not notified either to the Competent Authority or to other Control Bodies and the enforcement measures applied are neither dissuasive nor proportionate.

Some subcontracted activities are not always subject to the same level of controls as activities carried out by certified operators. The number of additional inspections, unannounced inspections and samples taken is insufficient and the selection of the operators for these controls is not always risk-based.

(Source: DG Sante website)