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.
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.
The draft decree lays down the voluntary labelling requirements for the purposes of providing the consumer with better information about foodstuffs containing steviol glycosides.
The aim of the draft decree is to lay down the requirements for the labelling of foodstuffs containing the food additive steviol glycosides (E 960). These requirements are based on Commission Regulation (EU) 1131/2011 of 11 November 2011 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives with regard to steviol glycosides, which, with a view to practical requirements, allowed for the use of this natural zero-energy sweetener in the production of energy-reduced products. This additive is an extract from the plant Stevia rebaudiana and has been included among food additives. On the basis of the above, the labelling must not indicate that a product is sweetened with stevia; instead, it must indicate that it is sweetened with a sweetener obtained from stevia, i.e. steviol glycosides or a component thereof with the food additive number E 960. This decree defines the specific words that may be used to describe foodstuffs containing steviol glycosides.
Here are some articles:
(1) If steviol glycosides have been used for the production of a foodstuff, the words referred to in special regulations shall be indicated on the labelling,) and, for the purposes of informing the consumer, the words below may be used in the labelling of this foodstuff
a) “with steviol glycosides”, if the steviol glycosides contain no less than 95% by weight of stevioside, rebaudiosides A, B, C, D, E or F, steviolbioside, rubusoside and dulcoside in the dry matter of the steviol glycosides,
b) “with rebaudioside A”, if the steviol glycosides contain no less than 95% by weight of rebaudioside in the dry matter of the steviol glycosides,
c) “with stevioside”, if the steviol glycosides contain no less than 95% by weight of stevioside in the dry matter of the steviol glycosides,
d) “with steviol glycosides obtained from stevia”, where the words “from stevia” may be replaced with the words “from stevia extract” or “extract from the leaves of stevia”,
e) “with steviol glycosides of plant origin” or “with steviol glycosides from a plant source”,
f) “with steviol glycosides naturally occurring in the leaves of stevia”.
(2) The words referred to in 1 a) to f) may not be used in the information on the composition of a foodstuff containing steviol glycosides.
(3) The labelling of a foodstuff containing steviol glycosides may include a graphical or image representation of the stevia plant or a part thereof only if the words referred to in 1 a) to f) are indicated close to the representation.
A foodstuff containing steviol glycosides may be placed on the market in packaging manufactured before 1 March 2014, which does not comply with the requirements under this decree, until stocks are exhausted, but no later than on the use-by date indicated on the packaging.
The requirements under this decree shall not apply to products that have been manufactured or placed on the market in another Member State or in Turkey or placed on the market in accordance with the law of a Member State of the European Free Trade Association, which is at the same time a party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area.
This decree shall enter into force on 1 March 2014.