US-FSIS sets meeting on new mandatory catfish program

The right to know By Son Nguyen in HCMC The issue is not stamped 'Top Secret' to be kept away from the public. Nor is it something vital for national security that must be dealt with confidentially. Rather, the sale of substandard dairy products on the market is a matter of life and death for many consumers, who have all rights to knowingly choose the right products for their children, for patients, and for elderly people. Still, the issue is kept away from the people until it develops and breaks out into a huge scandal on the local media. So comes the widespread outrage. If there is one entity to be honored in the case, it is the Society of Standards and Consumer Protection, who half a year ago conducted tests on its own expenses to check the protein levels announced by manufacturers. To their surprise, most of the less-known brands proved to be substandard, with some having the protein level at just one-thirtieth of the announced proportion. The society then forwarded the alarming results to relevant health agencies, all to no avail. It is also the Consumer Protection Society that later informs the media of the issue, resulting in a widespread panic among the public, not because of the extent of the damage caused to consumers, but rather the trustworthiness of State organs. The HCMC Department of Health, which is the first to obtain the warning from the Society, has remained mouth-shut for months without informing consumers of the…... [read more]

HCM City supports 100% of health insurance cost for close-poverty people The residual fund balance of state-owned HCMC Social Insurance will be used to support the poor and those in close to poverty line, said the insurance company during a meeting on how to use the abundant fund of the insurance company for the poor. The meeting was presided over by Deputy Chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Nguyen Thi Thu and representatives from departments of Labor, Invalids and Social Affair, Health, Finance after Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper published an article entitled: "Insurance fund balance is residual while poor people have no insurance card". Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Social Insurance Agency Cao Van Sang said the surplus in insurance fund in 2015 was VND1,141 billion (US$51 million). As per the regulation of allocation and using the fund, the city is allowed to use 20 percent of the fund balance of the insurance company or VND228 billion (US$10,225,128). The Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said that until now, there are 80,000 poor and close to poverty line households without insurance cards which is worth VND653,400 /card per year. Those people just pay 30 percent or VND196,000 and the Governmental support 70 percent on buying health insurance. If the city People's Committee decides to pay 30 percent of health insurance cost that the poor must pay it needs VND3.9 billion (US$174,903) in next three months and more than VND 30 billion in next year.…... [read more]

Hà Nội Market Watch yesterday found a moon cake shop violating food labeling regulations. Anh Hòa Moon Cake Shop on Hà Nội's 87 Láng Hạ Street used note stickers with the manufacturing and expiry dates on its cake products handwritten, making it easy to replace. Moreover, the dates written on the note stickers were unclear. A handwritten September 6 date on the cakes could cause misunderstanding for the customers as it did not specify whether it was the manufacturing or expiry date. The inspectors have seized 118 moon cakes from the shop and ordered the shop owner to recall the products sold at the market. The shop will be under strict inspection until it follows the required labeling regulations. Nguyễn Thanh Phong, head of the Ministry of Health's Food Safety and Hygiene, said moon cakes sold at the market should be inspected for quality and must possess licensed food safety certificates. Products without certificates would be recalled and enterprises would be fined. He added that homemade moon cakes, the favourite of many customers in recent years, were not under mandatory inspection, and therefore, might pose risks for customers. Source VNS... [read more]

Viet Nam News HÀ NỘI - Hà Nội Market Watch yesterday found a moon cake shop violating food labeling regulations. Anh Hòa Moon Cake Shop on Hà Nội's 87 Láng Hạ Street used note stickers with the manufacturing and expiry dates on its cake products handwritten, making it easy to replace. Moreover, the dates written on the note stickers were unclear. A handwritten September 6 date on the cakes could cause misunderstanding for the customers as it did not specify whether it was the manufacturing or expiry date. The inspectors have seized 118 moon cakes from the shop and ordered the shop owner to recall the products sold at the market. The shop will be under strict inspection until it follows the required labeling regulations. Nguyễn Thanh Phong, head of the Ministry of Health's Food Safety and Hygiene, said moon cakes sold at the market should be inspected for quality and must possess licensed food safety certificates. Products without certificates would be recalled and enterprises would be fined. He added that homemade moon cakes, the favourite of many customers in recent years, were not under mandatory inspection, and therefore, might pose risks for customers. - VNS... [read more]

Tra fish exporters told to register for shipments to U.S. Ngoc Hung By Ngoc Hung - The Saigon Times Daily HCMC - The National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (Nafiqad) has asked tra fish exporters to register their shipments to the United States by next Friday. In a document signed on Tuesday by Nafiqad head Nguyen Nhu Tiep, enterprises will be able to register for tra fish export to the U.S. if they already shipped the fish to the U.S last year and signed export contracts with American partners for this year. Tra exporters must obtain codes from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and meet food safety criteria specified in Circular 48/2013/TT-BNNPTNT issued by Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on November 12, 2013. Exporters are required to make registrations as the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) earlier announced its final regulations on a mandatory inspection program for fish of the order Siluriformes and products derived from these fish. These regulations were issued to implement the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, which amended the Federal Meat Inspection Act mandating FSIS inspection of Siluriformes including tra fish. The regulations will take effect in March 2016, 90 days after they were publicized. However, FSIS applies an 18-month transitional period for both domestic and imported products. Data of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) showed tra fish exports totaled US$1.58 billion last year, down 10.4% from the previous…... [read more]

Hopes Pinned on End of USDA Catfish Inspections With a vote of 55-43, the US Senate voted to shut down the nation’s only catfish inspection programme imposed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Farm Bill 2014. This resolution was made from the proposal on December 7, 2015 by Senator John McCain and Senator Kelly Ayotte in a law review programme. If the resolution passes the House of Representatives, it will still have to be signed by President Obama to become law. This is the first important step to abolishing the catfish inspection programme. Inspection mechanism The catfish inspection programme was first legalised by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (also known as the 2008 US Farm Bill). Accordingly, the US Congress included catfish into mandatory inspection programme applicable to high-risk foods like red meat and poultry. Controversies over this ruling were food safety incidents at that time which were unrelated to catfish, thus arousing suspicions of import restrictions to protect the US catfish industry. Based on the 2014 Farm Bill, the USDA issued an official ruling on the catfish inspection programme on December 2, 2015. The programme took effect on March 1, 2016 with a transitional period of 18 months before taking full effect on September 1, 2017. The programme included catfish from the low-risk sector to the high-risk sector and inspection authority was transferred from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to USDA. To be certified, a catfish unit must be inspected, assessed and…... [read more]

(VOVworld) – The situation on the Korean peninsula is tense, as usual, following new sanctions against North Korea in response to its recent nuclear test and missile launch. Anh Huyen comments on the sanctions and possible ways to ease the tension. South Korea on Tuesday unleashed a wave of sanctions against North Korea that includes banning ships that have visited North Korean ports in the past 180 days from its waters. South Korea also blacklisted 38 North Korean officials, 2 foreigners, and 30 organizations involved in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. South Korean citizens abroad have been warned not to visit North Korean restaurants and South Korea has officially halted the "Nanjin-Khasan" cooperative project with Russia and North Korea. Expected reaction Faced with sanctions and responding to a joint military drills by the US and South Korea, North Korea warned that it might use chemical weapons. It has rejected the UN sanctions and strengthened its arsenals, saying it is ready to deploy nuclear weapons and ready for a preemptive attack. International observers say it’s not the first time North Korea has reacted negatively to a UN Security Council resolution. The UNSC imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006, 2009, and 2013. But this year North Korea is reacting to the toughest sanctions ever. The new sanctions include mandatory inspections of cargo leaving and entering North Korea by land, sea or air; a ban on the export of coal, gold, titanium, rare earth, and all imports of aviation fuel. These…... [read more]

(VOVworld) – The UN Security Council has pushed back to Wednesday a vote on imposing a new raft of sanctions on North Korea, following a request from Russia, diplomats said. The vote had been expected Tuesday afternoon but Russia invoked a 24 hour procedural review, according to the US mission to the United Nations. In a televised speech Tuesday ahead of the vote, South Korean President Park Geun-hye says the door of dialogues is still open but the international community must continue to pressure North Korea until the regime proves it is committed to giving up its nuclear weapons development program. Her statement came after US submitted the resolution to the UN Security Council to increase sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest nuclear test and long-range missile launch. The draft, seen by Reuters, would require UN member states to conduct mandatory inspections of all cargo passing through their territory to or from North Korea to look for illicit goods.... [read more]

(VOVworld) - The US has presented a draft Security Council resolution on tightening restrictions on North Korea, in which the toughest measure is to conduct mandatory inspections of all cargo passing through US territory to or from North Korea. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told reporters on Thursday that for the first time in history, all cargo going in and out of North Korea would be subjected to mandatory inspection. The resolution drafted by the US would also bar North Korean vessels suspected of carrying illegal goods from ports worldwide and tighten an arms embargo to ban supplies of small arms. It also provides for a ban on exports of coal, iron, gold, titanium and rare earth minerals from North Korea and imposes a ban on the supply of aviation fuel including rocket fuel. Other proposed measures include a requirement for states to expel North Korean diplomats engaging in illicit activities, and blacklisting 17 North Korean individuals and 12 entities, including the National Aerospace Development Agency or 'NADA', the body responsible for February's rocket launch.... [read more]

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25 - The United States presented a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Thursday it negotiated with China that would dramatically tighten existing restrictions on North Korea after its Jan. 6 nuclear test and create the toughest U.N. sanctions regime in over two decades. The draft, seen by Reuters, would require U.N. member states to conduct mandatory inspections of all cargo passing through their territory to or from North Korea to look for illicit goods. Previously states were only required to do this if they had reasonable grounds to believe there was illicit cargo. The United States used the nearly two months of bilateral negotiations that at one point involved President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, diplomats said, to win China's support for unusually tough measures intended to persuade its ally North Korea to abandon its atomic weapons program. The proposal would close a gap in the U.N. arms embargo on Pyongyang by banning all weapons imports and exports. There would also be an unprecedented ban on the transfer to North Korea of any item that could directly contribute to the operational capabilities of the North Korean armed forces, such as trucks that could be modified for military purposes. Other proposed measures include a ban on all supplies of aviation and rocket fuel to North Korea, a requirement for states to expel North Korean diplomats engaging in illicit activities, and blacklisting 17 North Korean individuals and 12 entities, including the National Aerospace Development Agency or 'NADA',…... [read more]




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