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Consumers should learn about food safety to protect themselves: seminar

Viet Nam News

HCM CITY – With unsafe foods becoming an increasing risk, it is important for people to know about safe and clean food to protect themselves, Nguyễn Thị Hồng Minh, president of the Association of Food Transparency, told a seminar in HCM City on December 7.

The seminar, titled “Identify safe food”, sought to raise consumers’ awareness of food safety issues and apprise them about food traceability and production standards and how to read food packaging and labeling information correctly.

Minh said producers of clean and safe food are like saplings which have just started to grow but are being blown away by storms of unsafe food.

She quoted the old dictum “only the seller knows [what they sell] while buyers do not know anything”, saying consumers should acquire basic knowledge to at least understand what food is safe so that they can choose.

Đỗ Lan Nhi, an academic and expert on food safety issues, said consumers should be aware of the words uses on the food packages they buy, especially fresh foods like vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish, since some of them can be misleading.

She said for instance when a producer states on the packaging their production follows Global GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) processes, it does not mean they are certified by Global GAP.

Some producers claim their production conforms to Global GAP standards, she said, asking, “Does it mean they are a Global GAP-certified producer?”

In the case of Global GAP-certified producers, consumers can easily check all information about their products by entering the GGN codes or their names on the Global GAP database, which is free to access, she said.

However, with Global GAP certification being time-bound, consumers should also look at the date of expiry of the certification to avoid being tricked by outdated certificates, she said.

The seminar was held on the sidelines of the Agricultural Gifts Market, a platform for small organic food producers to present their products to consumers.

Minh said the size of the event is relatively small because most of the participating producers are small and have just started their organic food business.

“They have not found a way to sell their products through supermarkets or food store chains and only sell online or to their friends and acquaintances. Because of this way of doing business, they cannot enhance their size.”

She said with event like this they could hopefully reach more consumers and establish trust to eventually become bigger businesses.

The market, being held at the Saigon Innovation Hub in District 3, concludes at 5pm on December 8. — VNS