HCMC steps up food safety inspection amid more poisoning cases

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An undated file photo shows workers of a factory in Ho Chi Minh City being hospitalized for food poisoning. Photo: Khanh Vy/Thanh Nien An undated file photo shows workers of a factory in Ho Chi Minh City being hospitalized for food poisoning. Photo: Khanh Vy/Thanh Nien

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Ho Chi Minh City authorities are planning to set up a major food safety agency as the number of food poisoning victims has been on the rise this year.
The new agency, directly managed by the city's administration, will have more authority in coordinating with relevant agencies and handling violations, according to the plan.
The current food safety agency of the city, managed by the Department of Health, has limited personnel and authority, the city’s Interior Department said in the plan.
A total of 248 people were hospitalized for food poisoning in the first four months this year, according to the Food Safety Agency. That was nearly equal to the number of patients with food poisoning in 2015. 
Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai, the agency’s vice chief, said food poisoning has been on the rise in the past five years, mostly involving school and factory meals.
Last year, there were 171 cases of food poisoning, killing 23 and sending nearly 5,000 others to hospital.
Official statistics show the city of around 10 million people consumes 287,000 tons of meat, 1 billion eggs, one million tons of vegetables and 170,000 tons of seafood a year.
Food safety remains a major concern as many farmers and traders are not equipped with relevant knowledge while others deliberately engage in unsafe practices for higher profits.
The city can supply up to 20 percent of its food demand and imports the rest from other localities and abroad, according to the food safety agency.

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