Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have approved a pilot project to adopt a market model that sells clean food, in a bid to enhance food safety.
The safe-food market model will be first applied to Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and Hoc Mon Produce Wholesale Market, located in the namesake district, and is expected to be implemeted at other markets by 2020.
According to a representative of the Food Safety Management Authority of Ho Chi Minh City (FSMA), merchants at the two marketplaces will first need to meet three basic requirements to be able to run their businesses.
Similar to most markets across the city, sellers must have a legitimate business license, food safety certificate, and ensure that their products have a clear origin.
At the Hoc Mon Produce Wholesale Market, which is the city’s prominent supplier of pork and vegetables, a team of 14 food safety officials will be tasked with managing the quality of food sold at the venue.
They will assist merchants in the supervision of pork products via a QR-coded label, which is part of a plan by the municipal Department of Industry and Trade.
Thanks to this, customers are able to access information regarding where the pigs were raised, when and where they were slaughtered, and from which wholesale market their meat was distributed, through a mobile phone app.
For fruit and vegetables, merchants will be instructed on noting down the origin of their produce.
Meanwhile, managers of Ben Thanh Market will be in charge of ensuring product quality instead of a team of food safety officials.
The market managers, in coordination with the FSMA and district-level bureaus of health, will show sellers how to monitor the origin of their merchandise.
The FSMA will carry out regular inspections of the two markets and impose stern punishments upon those violating the regulations on food safety.
Lan Hue, a food vendor at Ben Thanh Market, expressed her excitement at the food-safety model, stating that mangers of the venue should list the necessary criteria for sellers to prepare for the plan.
However, many small-scale traders are worried that they would be unable to meet all the requirements due to limited financial capacity.
Some vendors stated they have been fetching products from various sources, thus keeping track of their origin would be really difficult.
Nguyen Thi Lan, a pork seller at Hoc Mon Market, said she does not have enough money to afford proper tables to display the meat as required.
Meeting other equipments for food safety is out of her reach as well, Lan admitted.
Many agreed that local authorities should support merchants in terms of finance to help them adapt to the new model, thus maximizing the efficiency of the project.