Food is one of the most fundamental needs of human being. However, not all food in Vietnam is hygienic, especially one sold in street vendors and small shops. Concerns for food safety has never been relieved in the country yet raising tremendously due to repeated occurrences of foodborne illness lately. Therefore, ensuring food hygiene is the responsibility of not only the government and organizations but also every individual.
Nowadays, many foods of unknown origin are on the market, making it hard for consumers to dine safely. Unsafe practices of food chains in producing, processing, conserving, transporting, and selling food put consumers’ health at risk, for instance, the use of chemicals in food production such as illegal antibiotics, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers in agriculture and many hazardous substances in meat. This is a matter of ethics when many food producers see profits over the adverse outcomes for end-users. Moreover, studies found that foodborne illness are more likely to be caused by bacterial contamination rather than chemicals, which could be prevented by better hygienic procedures from food chains. Whether it is because of poisonings from the processing or the environment, food contamination has significant impacts on consumers and exportation.
According to Havelaar et al. (2015), the Western Pacific, where Vietnam is a part of, ranks second in the world in terms of foodborne diseases. Out of around 1.5 billion people in the region, at least 50.000 people die from food contamination and more than 125 million people become ill each year. Foodborne hazard is not just common in the Pacific region; poor food practices were a notorious issue in Europe and America during their rapid developing stages, which can be overcome. According to recent reports from the government, food hygiene practices has recently been improved; however, still many issues remain. Problems come from the predicament of food system where producers with good food practices receive little rewards, yet those with unsafe practices are highly rewarded.
To prevent and minimize foodborne hazards, various actions need to be carried out immediately. First of all, a more common response in to strengthen regulations by pushing inspections and punishments. This has been widely used by the Vietnamese government; however, it will be even more effective if we are able to make organizations realize the long-term profitability of good food practices and motivate them to self-regulate. By this way, food production process will always be remained within safe limits. Secondly, regulations for import needs tightening. Food, ingredients, chemicals, etc. are required to be checked cautiously before imported so as to prevent unknown origin products leaked into the country. Next, it is necessary to encourage food manufacturers to apply safe practices and legal procedures through rewarding and recognition. Enterprises and food chains must also put morality over profitability. Finally, regarding end-users, it is important for everyone to care more about food hygiene, place quality over price, and avoid purchasing food from unclear sources. Reporting unethical behaviors as well as illegal food processing is mandatory for every individual.
Havelaar, A., Kirk, M., Torgerson, P., Gibb, H., Hald, T., Lake, R., Praet, N., Bellinger, D., de Silva, N., Gargouri, N., Speybroeck, N., Cawthorne, A., Mathers, C., Stein, C., Angulo, F. and Devleesschauwer, B. (2015). World Health Organization Global Estimates and Regional Comparisons of the Burden of Foodborne Disease in 2010. PLOS Medicine, 12(12), p.e1001923.
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Author: Hoa Huynh