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.


QeA to EU Commission – Date of minimum durability on olive oil

The following Q&A with the EU Commission clarifies the EU position on the issue. Italy is imposing 18 months as maximum “best before” for olive oils, but the Commission is asking to amend the national legislation. If an olive oil will be too “old” and will lose its organoleptic properties (i.e. high levels of peroxides and acidity), it won’t met the standards set by the EU Regulations, therefore should be removed from the market. This is up to the food business operator and to competent authorities’ controls. That’s Commission’s position.

A Pilot case has been opened and the Italy answered that legislation will be amended.

Subject:  Expiry date on olive oil labels – 11th April 2016

Numerous studies have shown that the characteristics of olive oil deteriorate with time. It begins to lose the polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamins that slow down the body’s degenerative processes, making it such a valuable health food. Above all, peroxides and acidity — low levels of which have always been considered key quality criteria for customers — increase.

With the implementation of the Community requirements, the expiry date will no longer be 18 months, but may be decided freely by the bottlers themselves. This is tantamount to having no expiry date at all, since everyone will be able to set a date in accordance with his or her own commercial interests, without there being any guarantees for consumers; hence the risk that many people will take advantage of this measure to dispose of ‘old oil’.

In the light of the above, will the Commission say:

  1. Does it believe it necessary to initiate a change in the labelling of extra virgin olive oil in order to ensure its quality and, above all, the safety of consumers?
  2. What steps it will take to prevent old oil finding its way onto the tables of European consumers?

Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission – 7th June 2016

Article 9(1)(f) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 lays down, among the mandatory particulars to be indicated on labels, ‘the date of minimum durability’. For olive oil, it corresponds to the period within which olive oil retains its properties and should preferably be consumed. It is the responsibility of the food business operators to indicate this date of minimum durability.

In the EU market, the quality, authenticity, labelling and marketing of olive oil is regulated and safeguarded by two Regulations (Regulation (EEC) n° 2568/91 and Regulation (EC) n° 29/2012). These Regulations require Member States to carry out conformity checks to ensure that the olive oil marketed is consistent with the category declared.

(Source: EU Parliament)