Ho Chi Minh City authorities admitted in a live television show Sunday that they are losing the battle to ensure food safety and hygiene.
Hua Ngoc Thuan, vice chairman of the city People's Committee, said on "Listen and Discuss" on HCMC Television's HTV9 channel that the city may be able to control only 85 percent of food products by 2015, while complete control would take 2020.
Nguyen Phuoc Trung, deputy director of the city Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the city can only meet 20 percent of food demand and has to buy the rest from 22 cities and provinces around the country.
"We cannot ensure the quality of all food products."
In the first six months of this year officials in the suburban Thu Duc District seized more than 40 tons of rotten meat smuggled in 224 cases into the city to make human food, according to figures released at the program.
Huynh Le Thai Hoa, head of the Food Safety and Hygiene Department, said there are around 27,000 street vending spots in the city.
Officials said on the program that most residents face high risk of getting unsafe food since they find it convenient to buy from the nearest stop.
"Some people buy even when they are sure the products are not safe," one official said.
Thuan said the city would increase the budget for food inspections, and there would be more checks of wholesale markets.
"We will do our best to guarantee people have safe food, but we also recommend that people only use foods from prestigious suppliers," he said.
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