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Vietnam Releases Fish Sauce Guidelines in Wake of Industry Scandal

After last year’s commotion surrounding arsenic-laced fish sauce, Vietnam recently unveiled the country’s first-ever guidelines for producing and selling fish sauce.

The set of rules was a collaborative project between the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and other local fish sauce-producing unions, reports Tuoi Tre. By establishing a proper standard for the condiment, they hope to avoid similar scandals and distinguish traditionally produced fish sauce from mass-produced ones – now referred to as “fish-flavored condiments”, according to the guidelines.

The new standard features specific criteria for raw materials, quality, testing methods, labeling and transportation. Most importantly, a definition for fish sauce is also included: a sediment-free, transparent liquid that has the distinct aroma of fish that has been fermented for at least nine months.

VASEP also stated that the set of rules applies to products that were crafted from fresh fish and salt only. Products that contain diluted fish sauce, industrial flavors, colorings, thickening agents and other preservatives are not classified as fish sauce.

According to the guidelines, all fish sauce brands are now categorized based on protein content: specifically, the “special” category only has condiments with at least 35 grams of protein per liter and a strong umami flavor. Lower categories could include products with 15-35 grams of protein per liter with less umami aftertaste.

Zing reports that Vietnam’s fish sauce market is estimated to be worth approximately US$501 million. In 2015 alone, the country produced 70,000 tons of fish sauce to cater to local residents, who on average consume four liters of the condiment each year.

[Photo via Our Daily Brine]

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