With few Vietnamese consumers checking the weights of the pre-packed goods, many dishonest traders are selling products that weigh much lighter than their labels claim, prompting authorities to launch a nationwide inspection.
The three-month inspection on the weight of pre-packed products is the first of its kind ever launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Tran Minh Dung, head of the ministry’s secretariat, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview published Saturday.
Pre-packed products of 16 commodities, including dairy products, seafood, beer and beverage, cement, and plant protection drugs, on sale in all of the country’s 63 cities and provinces are under the scrutiny running from July the September, Dung said.
The Ministry of Science and Technology inspectorate has so far received reports from 30 localities, with 265 out of 1,288 inspected facilities found with labeling false weights on their products, according to the official.
These dishonest traders have been collectively fined VND600 million (US$26,786), whereas the products with false weights have been confiscated, Dung said.
These facilities are also requested to follow regulations on labeling product weight, and local authorities are asked to publicize their names for public reference, he added.
Most Vietnamese consumers do not have the habit of checking the weights of the pre-packed products.
“We will first check the price, expiry date, nutrition content, and weight of the products,” Huyen, a bank employee based in Hanoi, admitted.
A quick survey by Tuoi Tre on ten shoppers at a Hanoi supermarket found that eight of them have never checked the product weights before.
“I once found that a can of baby formula weights lighter than the label claims but did not know where to lodge a complaint to, so I just let it go,” Ta Thanh Dung, a resident from Long Bien District, said.
In Ho Chi Minh City, a check by Tuoi Tre found that a 500g pack of frozen shrimp on sale at a supermarket in Phu Nhuan District actually weighs only 200g.
The director of a supermarket admitted that even these distribution channels do not check the weights of the pre-packed products.
“What we care about is the food safety and product quality,” he said.