Most Hanoians ready to eat unsafe meat: official

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Hanoi has thousands of unhygienic slaughterhouses and a majority of its residents are ready to consume meat from those places, according to the capital city's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Nguyen Huy Dang, the agency deputy director, said there are 444 slaughterhouses that do not meet food safety requirements in the city despite being monitored by animal health agencies.

Regular violations include the lack of separate sections for keeping and slaughtering the animals and processing meat, the absence of a waste treatment system and the use of untreated well water, he said.

This is not to mention some 3,700 household slaughterhouses that remain out of the animal health agency's surveillance, he added.

The household facilities supply more than 47 percent of beef, 37 percent of pork and 57 percent of chicken and duck meat for the city.

According to a study done by the department, about 80 percent of Hanoi residents are ready to consume meat not approved by animal health agencies that may or may not meet food safety requirements.

"This is the reason for the persisting violations in slaughtering and trading unsafe meat," Dang said at a Tuesday meeting on food safety.

Nguyen Thi Nhu Mai, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, warned about an increase in violations of food safety regulations because of lenient punishments and a lack of enforcement guidelines for the Food Safety Law. In Vietnam, laws are typically followed by implementation instructions in the form of decrees and circulars.

"Sometimes, we have to lie in ambush all night to seize a truck carrying chicken illegally. However, it gets even more difficult to deal with the seizure.

"The maximum fine is only VND15 million (US$720). Because it is such a lenient punishment, most traders often flee and leave the animals behind. It would cost up to hundreds of millions of dong for us to destroy them," she said, adding such traders were prone to repeat violations.

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