Vietnam mulls tightening food safety at non-registered food businesses
Owners of unregistered and family businesses operating in Vietnam’s food industry will have to obtain a medical check-up certificate, among many other papers, to be eligible to run their business if a draft circular on strengthening food safety regulations is passed.
The provisional document, recently issued by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, requires that such entities be committed to ensuring food safety when offering their services.
The subjects of such rules could be a woman selling banh mi (Vietnamese bread) on the street, an eatery selling pho, a sidewalk café, a candy and cake store, or shops selling beer or homemade alcoholic drinks.
Non-registered and mom-and-pop businesses are those that do not have to be legally registered as a company.
Owners of such businesses have to obtain a “having knowledge of food safety” certificate, and undergo a health check to get a medical check-up record, according to the draft circular, prepared by the ministry’s science and technology agency.
The employees of such businesses would also be required to obtain health check certificates.
Business owners must also sign a written commitment to ensuring food safety at their facilities and this paper has to be renewed at least once a year, according to the draft circular.
While enterprises with business licenses are required to strictly follow many rules and regulations on food safety, how non-registered businesses ensure the safety of their products should also be put under management, said Nguyen Phu Cuong, head of the agency behind the document.
“As the draft circular may affect a number of businesses once approved, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is collecting feedback from members of the public before putting it into effect,” Cuong added.
Ngo Thi Phuong, who makes and sells uncooked Vietnamese noodles in Hanoi, said she has never heard of the draft circular.
Phuong currently has to obtain a document certifying that she “has knowledge of food safety” as required by the Ministry of Health and is thus confused whether the two papers are different or similar.
“I hope that all requirements and conditions to follow the new rules will be made clear to the public,” she said. “The ministry should make sure that people will not ‘buy’ such certificates with cash.”
A former leader of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade said while it is necessary to ensure food safety at unregistered and family businesses, there are many details that lack feasibility in the draft circular.
“The document includes some management measures that lack effectiveness and can be easily dodged by businesses,” he said.