A top official in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, the birthplace of the famous Vietnamese delicacy bun bo (beef noodle soup), has rebuked public criticism that the local administration wants the rest of the country to seek its permission to use the bun bo Hue brand.
Hue is the capital city of Thua Thien-Hue, where bun bo Hue is born and best served.
The provincial administration made national headlines last week after publicizing a set of 19 regulations to manage, protect and trademark the bun bo Hue brand.
According to the document, the Thua Thien-Hue administration is the only rightful owner of the brand, so any entity wishing to use the brand should seek permission from it.
Nguyen Hoang Thuy Vy, general secretary of the Thua Thien-Hue Tourism Association, told media last week the brand’s protection meant people must travel to Hue to apply for the permission to use the brand, no matter where they want to sell the dish.
“Otherwise, they are only able to name their dish or eatery as ‘Bun Bo,’ ‘Bo Hue,’ or even ‘Hue Bo,' but never ‘Bun Bo Hue,'” she said on Friday.
As the controversial initiative quickly ignited public criticism, Phan Ngoc Tho, the province’s standing deputy chairman who signed the document on July 13, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Saturday to clarify some points.
Tho immediately stated that the scheme is not meant to request that all bun bo Hue sellers come to Hue in order to register to use the brand.
In fact, the move is only to “create a set of standards on how to make a real Hue-style bun bo dish, with its authentic, traditional tastes and flavors,” the deputy chairman underlined.
“We had to do so because bun bo Hue has gone from a local specialty to a dish commonly known and served across Vietnam,” Tho said.
“The problem is that each region or area has its own way of cooking the dish, so the real bun bo Hue tastes have changed, and even been distorted.”
The Thua Thien-Hue administration has therefore trademarked the bun bo Hue brand, along with the standardized recipe and a logo for brand recognition.
The logo of the trademarked bun bo Hue
“We did not want to exclusively own the brand, but to encourage people to obtain that trademarked brand, which will ensure that customers are served an authentic bun bo Hue dish,” he explained.
In other words, he underscored, only those who want to have the logo and cook bun bo Hue to the standardized recipe have to seek permission from the Thua Thien-Hue administration.
“You will have to pass our requirements for food safety, ingredients, and cooking style in order to get the brand license,” he elaborated.
“This will improve the reputation of [bun bo Hue] restaurants or eateries.”
Tho added that the trademark step is intended to protect the bun bo Hue brand from being stolen by other entities.
“Vietnam has lost the Phu Quoc fish sauce and Dak Lak coffee brands, and we considered these lessons seriously,” he said.
In ending the interview with Tuoi Tre, Tho underscored that “bun bo Hue sellers in Vietnam and across the world never have to contact the Thua Thien-Hue administration if they do not want to use the trademarked brand and logo.”
“So rumors that any eatery that sells food using bun bo Hue signs or banners must contact us for permission are totally wrong,” he said.
A bowl of bun bo Hue