Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unsanitary food stalls shut down in Hanoi

The Ministry of Health has temporarily closed down dozens of food stalls in Hanoi over the past week due to substandard levels of food hygiene and safety.
It is reported that common violations include dirty food processing areas, mixing cooked and uncooked food, and the failure of staff to wear gloves.
Outlets that had imported food from other provinces were found to be selling food that had been contaminated during transportation.
Local markets, meanwhile, were found to have insufficient drainage systems, causing flies, mosquitoes and worms to flourish around the food.
One local newspaper reported that the city’s health department used to suspend such shops from operating, but they would soon resume operations when the department failed to do follow-up inspections.
According to the Hanoi Department of Health, around 60 percent of local food stalls have yet to be granted food safety and hygiene certificates.
Inspections are currently being conducted by five mobile inspector teams set up by the ministry last Tuesday in an effort to tighten the control of food safety and hygiene since an acute diarrhea epidemic broke out in March.
Each team is required to inspect and test food samples on-site and inform the shop owner of the results immediately.
In addition, those found in violation of the health codes will have their results published in the media.
Since the diarrhea outbreak began on March 5, more than 1,800 people in 19 provinces and cities have been hospitalized.
Around 326 have tested positive for cholera, with 44 cases reported in Hanoi.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae.
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