A recently-launched report on managing risks to food safety in Vietnam was prepared by the World Bank and other research and development partners at the request of the Government of Vietnam. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) was the lead technical partner in development of the report.
Food Safety Risk Management in Vietnam: Challenges and Opportunities, launched on 27 Mar 2017, includes an urgent call for better management of food safety issues in Vietnam and more effective communications to raise public awareness of food safety issues. The report found that the primary cause of food-borne illness in Vietnam comes from bacterial rather than chemical contamination and that both kinds of contamination can be prevented by effecting higher levels of food hygiene throughout the country's food value chains.
The launch of the report was attended by Vietnam’s deputy prime minister, Vu Duc Dam; vice minister of health, Truong Quoc Cuong; vice minister of industry and trade, Tran Quoc Khanh; vice chairman of the government office, Nguyen Van Tung; World Bank country director, Ousmane Dione; Work Bank practice manager, Nathan Belete; and representatives from research and development agencies and the media.
Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam (standing) speaks at the launch of a World Bank food safety report (photo credit: Pham Duc Phuc/HUPH; Tran Thi Tuyet Hanh/HUPH; Chi Nguyen/ILRI Vietnam).
I was impressed by the report. It is important that we have key findings in hand and that we translate them into specific actions.
The report starts a new page for the government and international organizations to cooperate with one another to deal with food safety issues in Vietnam.
—Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who heads the Central Intersectoral Steering Committee on Food Safety
The report names food safety a pressing concern of the public and says that high use of agricultural inputs such as antibiotics, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, as well as lack of traceability and cross-contaminations, are among key factors in threatening safe food in the country. Among the biggest challenges to ensuring safe food are the changing practices of millions of small food producers throughout the country. The authors stress that although Vietnam has a modern food safety regulatory framework in place, more results-focused and risked-based approaches are required for further improving the country’s food safety.
The main recommendation of the report is to develop a risk-based system for managing food safety.
Such a system involves risk assessment, management and communication alike. In terms of risk assessment, the report emphasizes strengthening national food safety monitoring and surveillance systems and improving the management of food safety data. Regarding risk management, the report recommends establishing a performance management system within ministries involved in food safety issues and working with food consumers to promote better practices by food producers. Risk communication includes development of a food safety communication strategy and enhancing collaboration among relevant state agencies and other actors to deliver practical and coherent food safety messages to the public.
Nguyen Viet Hung (left) made a presentation at Vietnam’s food safety report launch (photo credit: Pham Duc Phuc/HUPH; Tran Thi Tuyet Hanh/HUPH; Chi Nguyen/ILRI Vietnam).
There is no single way to address food safety issues, but international experience provides us with quite a few tested ideas that should be considered to improve food safety in Vietnam.
—Nguyen Viet Hung, regional representative of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in East and Southeast Asia
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Duc Dam and World Bank Country Director Ousmane Dione thanked all the partners that worked on the report for the past year. This partnership effort was made possible by the Vietnam Food Safety Working Group, which includes representatives from the Australian Government; the Canadian Embassy in Vietnam; CIRAD, the French agricultural research and international cooperation organization; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH); ILRI; and the World Bank.
This post was written by Chi Nguyen, communications officer for ILRI in East and Southeast Asia. It originally appeared on the ILRI blog.