EU may ban Vietnam green produce over quality infractions

All Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exporters now risk being banned from selling their products to the European Union (EU) after a few businesses have been discovered breaching food safety rules set by the bloc.

The European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DGSANCO) has issued a warning to Vietnam’s green produce exporters after three shipments were found containing harmful bacteria, the European Market Agency, under the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade, announced Tuesday.

DGSANCO has received reports from European countries on three batches of Vietnamese basil and bitter melon that were contaminated with bacteria harmful to consumer health since February, the agency said.

The Directorate General had previously ruled that within the year from February 1, 2014 to February 1, 2015, if five breaches of food safety regulations are detected, the EU will enact a ban on imports of green produce from Vietnam.

Produce exporters in the Southeast Asian country are thus only two cases away from crossing the line, prompting the European Commission health watchdog to release the warning.

The agency has therefore ordered that local businesses strictly follow EU food safety regulations to avoid further violations.

Upon receiving the DGSANCO warning, the Plant Protection Department, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has decided to stop approving new exports of five types of vegetables to the EU, according to a source close to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The agro-products include basil, chilli, bitter melon, celery, and cilantro, with the suspension lasting until the end of next year.

The move is seen as “necessary” by Dang Van Hoang, head of the Zone 2 Plant Quarantine Sub-Department of the Plant Protection Department.

“All Vietnamese fruit and vegetable products will be blacklisted by DGSANCO if two more violations are detected,” Hoang said.

Vietnam will also lose the EU market to rivals such as Thailand if it is prohibited from accessing the region, Hoang added.

Hoang, from the plant quarantine sub-department, said relevant Vietnamese agencies are negotiating with the EU to expand the cap on the number of permissible food safety violations by Vietnamese exporters.

“With Vietnam shipping as many as 15,000 batches of produce to the EU annually, the five-case limit represents a 0.03 percent ratio, which is too rigorous,” Hoang said.

Source: tuoitrenews.vn

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