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Authentic noodle makers incur business slump due to safety concerns
Many noodle makers in northern Vietnam have been reporting slow sales after the recent stories of unsafe noodles reported only in the southern region of Vietnam.
Recently environmental crime prevention police in the southern province of Tay Ninh have inspected several noodle production establishments and found that some have used bleach that is banned from use in food processing.
Such substances include Tinopal, an optical brightener for papermaking, detergents and cleaners like Oxalic acid that is used for cleaning or bleaching, especially for the removal of rust.
The incidents have stirred up public concerns over noodle food safety and hygiene. Having no other choice, many are compelled to opt not to consume such a popular food, causing a considerable fall in noodle sales recently.
Even though the incidents were reported in the south, many traditional villages in the north that make noodles are seriously affected, incurring a major slump in business, although there is no proof of bleaching in these villages.
Khac Niem Commune in Bac Ninh City has been a major noodle provider for Hanoi and localities in the surrounding areas for years. Production and trading there have been slowing down after the recent noodle-safety reports.
Nguyen Thi Hoan, a local resident, has reported a considerable decrease in noodle sales recently. Sales fell to less than one ton per day compared to the previous amount of around 1.5 million tonnes daily.
“My whole family and several workers have been making a living from noodle production for years. The recent reports about substandard noodles in the south have seriously affected our business even though we still strictly comply with food safety and hygiene regulations. Our revenues have been reduced by around VND3 million (USD141.60) per day,” Hoan said.
Vu Thi Lan, another local woman, complained that several restaurants have continued to return noodles as most of their customers have opted not to eat noodles for health concerns after the incidents.
“Our noodles sales have critically decreased to little more than 300 kilos per days. Noodles orders and delivery are rather quiet,” she said.
Duong Minh Du, head of Tien Ngoai Hamlet in Khac Niem Commune said, “We’ve worked in noodle production for years and don’t use any toxic substances. It’s unfair for us to be victims of others’ misconduct.”
Several communal authorities said local noodles sales have decreased by nearly 30%, causing losses of hundreds of millions VND per day to producers.
In order to help improve the situation, local authorities have been making efforts to intensify propaganda to improve people’s awareness of the issue, he noted.
“Noodle producers in Khac Niem Communes have strictly complied with food safety and hygiene standards. Consumers should feel safe when using their products,” he added.