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Vietnam Imposes Harsher Penalties on Street Vendors, Eateries to Address Food Safety Concerns

A new resolution will increase fines for street vendors who do not wear gloves as well as organizations that sell diseased animals or use banned chemicals.

Resolution 115, which will revise 2013's resolution 178 beginning October 20, hopes to address a variety of food safety issues at points of supply and sale. Rather than issuing warnings for first-time offenders, as was the previous policy, fines will be issued immediately. Other penalties include revocation of certificates of food safety and registration of products, confiscation of materials or suspension of business operations. 

On the supply side, companies or individuals found to be selling out-of-date products, plants or animals that have not undergone required quarantine or with unclear origin can be fined double the value of goods. The revised regulations extend to street stalls as well.

For example, fines for vendors who don't use gloves have increased from VND300,000-500,000 to VND500,000-1 million, while those who cannot present food safety certificates will now be subject to penalties of VND20 million-40 million instead of VND300,000-25 million.

The changes come after a July conference reporting on food safety and hygiene. While noting some improvements, authorities cited widespread failures to inspect, investigate and penalize the sale of products containing illegal chemicals and antibiotics as well as fraudulent packaging.

A report issued at the conference said that in the first six months of 2018, inspectors across 63 provinces identified 68,362 out of 351,130 businesses violating food safety and hygiene regulations, 13,017 of which were fined more than VND35 billion, and 170 had their licenses suspended. The figures are similar to those from last year over the same time period.

The revised laws seem to be a long time coming. In 2015, Do Thanh Lam, deputy chief of Market Management Board under the Ministry of Trade, identified punishments as not being strict enough to deter offenders. He explained that the "money is insignificant compared to the huge amount of money that they can gain from their fraud. That's why it doesn't prevent them from violating the rules." He also said that more inspectors are on the ground investigating small and large businesses.

While there is improvement, food safety is a major concern in the nation. A 2017 report claimed that 70% of District 1 street food vendors don't meet safety standards. Experts suggest that 60-70% of all diseases in Vietnam are food related and the prevalence of chemicals in meats may result in Vietnam being the world leader in cancer rates by 2020. In the first half of this year alone, a thousand people were hospitalized and eleven died because of food poisoning. 

Related Articles:

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70% of D1's Street Food Vendors Don't Meet Food Safety Standards: Report

Saigon Has Failed at Food Safety Management: Official

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