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Ministry issues new alert on food safety

HA NOI — The Health Ministry has requested all provinces and cities to strengthen food safety and hygiene activities nation-wide by promoting aware-ness and inspection programmes during the new year festival.

"Consumer demand increases ten-fold during the new year, especially over the traditional holiday period," said deputy head of the ministry's Viet Nam Food Administration Nguyen Thanh Phong at a press conference in Ha Noi yesterday.

"To ensure food safety and hygiene during the festive season, we will boost awareness activities targeting food producers, traders and consumers," he said.

He also added that six inter-sectoral inspection groups would be set up to supervise food safety at markets in Ha Noi, HCM City and provinces with border gates.

According to the administration, the country has reported 173 food poisoning cases this year, less than the average annual number of 200 over the last decade. Eighteen cases were reported with 323 people infected during the last quarter of 2010, of which four died due to eating puffer fish.

"Food poisoning is showing signs of reduction as compared with the same period in 2009, however 60 per cent of the cases were in domestic outbreaks," said Phong.

"Most poisoning outbreaks related to poor food preservation or natural toxins found in mushrooms, puffer fish and toads," added Phong.

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