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New standards could affect traditional methods of fish sauce production

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The draft on national standards on good practices in fish sauce production now being compiled by the agriculture ministry has been facing strong opposition from traditional fish sauce workshops and experts.

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They said the new standards would push small-scale production workshops and businesses to the wall. 

To satisfy the new standards, businesses would have to organize production on a large scale. The know-how to make traditional fish sauce may disappear.

Truong Tien Dung, deputy chair of the HCMC Food & Foodstuff Association, warned that the small workshops that make fish sauce in traditional way may not be able to sell their products in the market under their brands, but would have to provide materials to big companies which make products on an industrial scale.

Emphasizing that fish sauce is part of the culture and tradition of Vietnam, Dung said any regulations that affect the number of producers and the quality of products would need to be reconsidered.

The owners of traditional fish sauce workshops have complained that the state agency has set impractical regulations related to veterinary medicine control, plant protection medicine and prohibition of using decomposed material fish. As a result, producers would have to waste money on tests to find residue which doesn’t exist. 

In the latest move, MARD has reassured traditional fish sauce producers that there is need to worry about the standards.

Dao Trong Hieu, a senior official of MARD, said the standards just aim to identify the risks latent in different stages of the production process which may affect quality and safety. Some technical solutions will be suggested to prevent and minimize risks to final products.

“Under the current laws, regulations must be observed, while standards are not obligatory,” he explained.

The official said that the government’s Decree 15 on several articles of the Food Safety Law gives autonomy to enterprises. The standards set by state agencies only show general requirements that producers have to satisfy.

Meanwhile, fish sauce producers declare standards for their products and are responsible for the declarations. In many cases, the standards set by producers are much higher than Vietnamese standards.

Regarding the materials for fish sauce production, the official said all kinds of fish, both fresh and brackish water, can be used make fish sauce. As aquaculture has been developing strongly, this is possible. Some workshops now use tilapia to make fish sauce.

“Similarly, no one will advocate the production of fish sauce from spoiled ingredients which may create toxic substances, such as histamine and NH3. We recommend using fresh ingredients,” he said.



Source: VietNamNet

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