Food safety management is a major concern of Vietnam to protect the health of consumers. This study was conducted to assess the current status and propose the “single window - single agency” solutions for state management of food safety in the pork value chain in Ho Chi Minh City. The study used the value chain approach to investigate the provincial and district agencies, pork producers, slaughtermen, traders and consumers in Ho Chi Minh City. The results show that “a single food safety agency” model, based on the Food Safety Management Board, is considered an innovative solution to food safety management as a result of creating unity, consistency and prompt responses in food safety management. The model implemented the traceability for pigs to manage pork at wholesale markets. The use of ring for pigs helps improve effectiveness of food safety management.
Keywords: food safety, pork value chain, traceability
THE NEED FOR SAFETY FOOD MANAGEMENT IN HO CHI MINH CITY
Ho Chi Minh (HCM) city is the most populous city in Vietnam with around 8.86 million people (HCM city Statistics Office, 2019). This city also has the largest food consumption in the country, especially pork consumption. However, pig raising only meets 15-20 % of its pork consumption, the rest must be imported from other provinces such as Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, Tien Giang (HCM city Statistical Office, 2018). Pork is mainly transported through two wholesale markets of Binh Dien and Hoc Mon in HCM city. It is important for the state management and solutions to food safety management by mobilizing the participation of actors in the chain from production to consumption. For value chain-based food safety management, role of the state agencies in implementing management and control is essential, especially the unity in management and control, focusing on some issues: Implementation of electronic traceability systems based on risk analysis and assessment is a prerequisite for controlling food safety successfully (CASRAD, 2018). From the problems listed above, this paper aims to assess the current situation and proposes solutions to improve state management of food safety in pork value chain in HCM city through results of trial model: a single food safety agency.
FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT: TRACEABILITY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Pork is being sold through four main channels, for each of these channels, the state management of food safety has its own characteristics.
Channel 1: This channel accounts for 80% of the total selling volume. Pig farms in Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Long An sell directly to large abattoirs in Long An and other provinces (2,200 head/night) then transported to the Hoc Mon wholesale market (5000 head/night), Binh Dien wholesale market (3,000 head/ night). As for management of pork and how they entered the pig wholesale markets, the city has approved the project on management, identification and traceability. Pigs are worn identification rings in the production area and entered information to trace their origin before transporting to abattoirs in HCM city and other provinces. For pigs raised in HCM city, they must be confirmed by commune animal health before selling. Inner-provincial pigs do not require animal health certificates. Pigs that are moved from other provinces to HCM city require the original Certificate of Quarantine of the provincial Sub-Departments of Animal Health (SDAH) and quarantine certificates must be submitted to the animal quarantine stations at traffic hubs. Meanwhile, a traceability ring worn on a pig (2 rings/pig) will be able to trace the origin in the production process. At abattoirs, Animal Health team will implement quick assessment in necessary cases and the pork will be stamped for quarantine in HCM city. In coordination, six neighboring provinces of the Regional Animal Health Office No.6, Sub-Departments of Animal Health have a plan building linkage to cross-check, grade and classify slaughterhouses for pigs slaughtered in other provinces and delivered to HCM city. Pork must be transported by insulated trucks with a low temperature and sealed containers. A tracing loop will be attached to the vehicle's trunk and the Food Safety Committee staff will check and trace all vehicles before the pork enters the wholesale market. Pork retailers in wholesale markets must check the pig ring barcodes and the production information of the batch of pork before purchasing. Pork from wholesale markets to retail markets is transported by motorbikes with iron boxes to preserve meat from exposure to natural environment.
Channel 2: The channel accounts for 3% of the total selling volume: this is a small-scale livestock production and slaughter facilities in HCM city; Small-scale slaughterhouses are slaughterhouses in Binh Thanh and Thu Duc districts. However, it does not have traceability control and pigs do not wear rings, therefore it is difficult to manage. However, for retailers from small-scale slaughterhouses in HCM city, pork from small-scale slaughterhouses in HCM city must have veterinary quarantine seal. As the number of pigs slaughtered in this chain is small, the slaughterhouse must prove the origin of live pigs. The slaughter process must be free from contamination and unhygienic practices. The slaughter plants are built according to the requirements of ISO, HACCP and GMP standards with capacity of 1,200 heads per day. There is a preliminary processing area, cold storage for storaging and processing of meat, applying the fast freezing technology in storing meats.
Channel 3: Vissan's pork chain supplies chilled meat to the market, with packaging and labels according to the standard of chilled meats (TCVN 12429-1:2018). Cold thermal storage technology is applied throughout the chain, from post-slaughter to retail. At the Vissan's meat stalls in the market, there are traceability stamps but it is not on the product, due to: i) 100% of consumers at the market trust Vissan's brand name, therefore it is not necessary to having traceability stamps ii) There are a lot of customers, therefore it takes more time to stamp for traceability, iii) Scanning the tracking code is extremely inconvenient, consumers do not use usual traceability software but must use specialized TE-FOOD software to be able to trace them. Pigs raised in this channel often meet VietGAP standards. There are 2 Vissan pig farms and 12 pig suppliers ( C.P. VietNam Corporation, Dehus,etc.)
SDAH inspect dossiers of quarantine, pigs shall be transported in sealed vehicle, have traceable rings according to the city's programme. The slaughter plants are built according to the requirements of ISO, HACCP and GMP standards with capacity of 1,200 heads per day. There is a preliminary processing area, cold storage for storaging and processing of meats, applying the fast freeze technology used mainly for storing meat of 120 Vissan's distribution stores and supermarkets (storage in fridge). Vissan's retail stalls at traditional markets (normal environmental conditions, clean stainless steel tables, hangers). Meanwhile, transportation activities are carried out by insulated vehicles with hangers according to Decision 31/2005 /QD.
Channel 4: Metro’s pork chain, pigs raised in this channel also meet VietGAP standards. Livestock production system belongs to collaborative groups established by the Livestock Competitiveness and Food Safety Project (LIFSAP). Pigs raised in this area also have traceable rings. Assuring the quality of pigs, the slaughterhouse could buy pigs and ensured that Metro staff had evaluated the quality, food environment, with full and clearrecords. In this chain, the slaughter process is automatic, pigs have full dossiers of quarantine, traceable rings and transported by insulated trucks to each market. The activity of quality inspection of pork before entering the supermarket, pigs have clear information on production date and origin, where sales of meat must be clean, and meat products should be refrigerated in chilled storage (fresh, freshly slaughtered, unpackaged meat) so that consumers increasingly have opportunities to choose their favorite piece of meat with proper weight.
Assuring the traceability of pigs is important requirement for performance of food safety in HCM city. However, there are some limitations that should be addressed in implementing traceability such as: the programme receives only registration information from the facility but they do not have a reality check, leading to the number of pigs exported exceeds in reality; There is a situation in which some farms activate the identification ring but do not wear it on the pig's feet, or only a few heads of the whole batch of pigs, the remaining number of activated identification rings is allocated for trading. In addition, there is a breeding farm that lends the registration code of pig traceability to the trader, leading to the number of pigs for sale greater than the actual number of pigs raised. This causes difficulties in traceability as there is a possibility that there is difference between actual origin and traceability; when activated, data is not shown because traders wear only traceable rings to deal with authorities.
FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FROM MODEL BUILDING
In building management model for food safety of HCM city, in addition to application of central legal and policy documents, HCM city has issued some specific policy documents in accordance with local conditions on food safety management in the pork value chain. Interagency coordination activities in the inspection activity of food safety in the pork chain in HCM are implemented consistently under the direction of the HCM city Inter-Agency Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety. Inter-Agency Steering Committees on Food Hygiene and Safety were established at four levels: commune, district, province and central. This process is now being consolidated by the Decision 16490/QD-UBND.
HCM city Food Safety Management Board, in which the lead agency has the principal responsibility to HCM city People's Committee for carrying out the state management of food safety in the city according to Decision 19/2018 / QD-UBND) through a single window model. Accordingly, every three months, HCM city’s Food Safety Management Board sums up the situation and reports to the Central Inter-Agency Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety, the Ministry of Health, and the City People's Committee on the results of implementation of food safety management activities in the City.
Provincial level: National Single Window mechanism was piloted for food safety and HCM city Food Safety Management Board was established. This board is established with staff from three departments, including HCM City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Department of Industry and Trade and Department of Health. This reform aims to unify one focal point for management agency on food safety. Therefore, chain-based food safety management of pork products from June 2017 is assigned to the following agencies: (1) Sub Department of Animal Health: Management of inputs, livestock production and slaughter. For live pigs that are moved from provinces to Ho Chi Minh city require the original Certificate of Quarantine of the provincial Sub-Departments of Animal Health (SDAH) and must submit quarantine certificates to the animal quarantine stations at traffic hubs.
For pigs that are moved from provinces to Ho Chi Minh City: Sub-Departments of Animal Health coordinates with six neighboring provinces of Regional Animal Health Office No.6 to inspect slaughterhouses for pigs slaughtered in other provinces and delivered to HCM City; (2) Food Safety Management Board: management in circulation, certification of food safety for qualified breeding facilities in HCM City. Department of Industry and Trade: management of administrative procedures for markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, retail markets. Department of Health and Food Safety Management Board: management for collective kitchens, industrial kitchens, etc.
District level: The Interdisciplinary Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety operates at 24/24 districts, has the same duties as Steering Committee at City level within district level, and sums up the situation and reports to the City Inter-Agency Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety and District People's Committee, every three months.
(1) Economic Division: Organize regional planning; track productivity, yield and total number of herds; develop program, plan and coordinate the implementation when having epidemic.
(2) District Veterinary Stations at suburban district: quarantine animals, animal products transported within the province and control slaughter; issue quarantine certificate, check quarantine certificate of imported frozen foods, check quarantine certificate and veterinary sanitary conditions of veterinary drug stores. District veterinary stations at urban district: only check product after quarantine, carry out quarantine on arrival.
(3) District Inter-Agency Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety: system including 20 inspection staff for wholesale market under Food safety management Board (located at the wholesale market); 2-3 inspection staff for retail market; implement product quality control: inspect 100% of all goods at traditional markets, inspect 100% of shrimp, fish and meet product at wholesale markets, about 10% of goods at supermarkets.
Commune level: The Interdisciplinary Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety operates at 314/322 communes, has the same duties as Steering Committee at City level and district level within commune/ward level, and sums up the situation and reports to the District Steering Committee on Food Hygiene and Safety and Commune/Ward People's Committee every three months, include members of grassroots veterinary, Farmers' Union, commune polices, Youth Association.
FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT ACCORDING TO VALUE CHAIN
For input management: Control of quality and food safety products for domestic and marketed animal feeds are inspected by district veterinary stations in coordination with market management teams in districts; imported raw materials and animal feeds are subject to specialized inspection prior to customs clearance.
For disease prevention: African swine fever is unusually complex across the whole country. Preventing spread of African swine fever to the city, in addition to implementation of necessary control measures (e.g. zoning of the city into infected zones, cleansing and disinfection of infected premises and safe burial or burning of infected pigs, etc), the city has set up 25 temporary quarantine stations in districts and seven stations in the city center to inspect pigs before consumption in the city.
For livestock production: Sub-Departments of Animal Health carries out inspection, periodic inspection, quarantine, sampling to control, issuing certificates of food safety for qualified breeding facilities. For suburban dictricts, Sub-Departments of Animal Health carries out inspection every 2-3 months. Households were provided with track book to monitor epidemiology, write diary of a vaccine monitor, take samples, and sell pigs. Pigs must be worn identification rings and confirmed by commune animal health before selling. Inner-provincial pigs that are sold do not require animal health certificates. Inter-provincial pigs that are sold require the original copy of Certificate of Quarantine.
For slaughterhouse management: For live pigs that are moved from provinces to Ho Chi Minh city require the original copy of Certificate of Quarantine of the provincial Sub-Departments of Animal Health (SDAH), and must submit quarantine certificates to the animal quarantine stations at traffic hubs; allowing pigs to rest for six hours prior to slaughter to minimize the risk of infection. Every night, SDAH assigns staff to directly supervise at the slaughterhouse, SDAH periodically takes urine samples for batches of pigs imported into the slaughterhouse. If pigs imported have been detected to contain prohibited substances, SDAH carries out destroy batches of pigs; at the same time, city Department of Animal Health notifies the Department of Animal Health of the provinces which have source of pigs tested positive for a banned substance, to coordinate to strengthen the sampling inspection at breeding facilities and to handle violated facilities. Before pigs are moved out the abattoir, they are inspected by the Food Safety Board staff. 100% of the pork entering the wholesale market must be refrigerated or frozen from a transport insulated, or transportation service which is provided by the slaughterhouse. Before pigs enter the wholesale market, a veterinarian checks a QR code stamp for traceability of origin and sales contract of trader and breeder.
For selling stage: In the management of pork entering wholesale markets, the City People’s Committee has approved the project on management, identification and traceability of pork. This management of identification rings can enhance the management on food safety.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES OF VALUE CHAIN-BASED SINGLE FOOD SAFETY AGENCY MODEL
HCM city directs agencies to propagate and educate knowledge about food safety, veterinary medicines, product quality in order to raise the sense of responsibility of producers, traders, slaughtermen, transporters, and pig consumers to strictly follow the food safety regulations. This city also pays attention to enhancing recognition of people about the food safety regulations and instructions about selecting, preserving, processing, and consuming food. In addition, collective kitchens and food services are encouraged and prioritized to use foods with clear traceability and belonging to the safe food chains in HCM city.
Inspection were strongly and synchronously deployed (HCM city Food Safety Management Board, 2019). The main and urgent objective is preventing, combating and controlling African swine fever. The Management Board has issued a plan to coordinate and implement the direction and inspect the source of pork that entered into wholesale markets for agricultural products in the area, especially by strict coordination to implement pork traceability. Specifically, traceability applied TE technology as the requirements of the project of management, identification and traceability of pork provided by TE-FOOD International Company. Each pig must wear rings. The activated yellow ring is worn when catching pigs; the activated orange ring is worn when transporting pigs. After cutting, the veterinary activates white ring before bringing it to stores, supermarkets and markets. The city has allocated 35 barcode scanners Honey Well EDA 50 to the Food Safety Management Teams located directly at the wholesale market of agricultural products at Binh Dien, Hoc Mon, to implement the traceability of pork products to the wholesale markets. The Food Safety Management Board continues to coordinate with the provinces to manage and connect the consumption of safe pork chains in HCM city and the provinces.
The results are as follows: (1) For administrative records for facilities: Most of the facilities applying for the quarantine certificate have business registration certificates, certificates of eligibility for food safety; The facilities submit copies for archival storage. (2) For sanitary conditions for facilities: all facilities should meet the sanitary requirements prescribed. (3) For consignment under quarantine. Consignments that are moved from provinces to HCM city require the original copy of Certificate of Quarantine of the provincial Sub-Departments of Animal Health (SDAH). Inner-provincial consigments require origin information paper. Storage of business certificates, invoices, information paper of animal products are kept on site. The facility itself should have its own management book and should record all the items in the form of the Department of Animal Health which previously provide guide information such as imports, exports, and inventories. The quarantine staff supervises and checks the sanitary conditions of the facility.
Many challenges still ahead
- On the management of traceability by wearing a pig ring
The management of wearing a pig ring helps improve food safety management. Traceability of pork by wearing leg rings previously implemented by HCM city Department of Industry and Trade is not effective as it is impossible to ensure that a pig wearing a ring is traceable and safe (Baomoi, 2019. Traceability of pork by wearing ring is not effective). Difficulty remains in controlling pork from provinces to wholesale markets and retail markets. SDAH does not control pork from provinces, as prior to having highways from the provinces, pork which enter HCM city have to pass four quarantine stations at traffic hubs such as An Lac station controlling pigs from Tien Giang and Long An provinces, Xuan Hiep station controlling pigs from Binh Duong, Hoc Mon station controlling pigs from Tay Ninh and some provinces. It is adjacent to Hoc Mon district, Thu Duc station which controls meat from Dong Nai and outside provinces. According to the regulations, transport vehicles must have quarantine certificates at four stations to enter the city. However, due to the presence of a highway, the vehicles that transport pigs into the city passing through the high-speed stations are expempted from the control of DAH (HCMC Food Safety Management Board, 2019).
The projects of industrial slaughtering plants have not yet been completed and put into operation; therefore, the manual slaughtering facilities still continue operating to supply the animal products which have been controlled by the veterinary bodies while awaiting the industrial slaughtering plants to come into operation. The existing manual slaughtering facilities are not invested and upgraded, therefore the compliance with regulations on minimizing odor, noise, veterinary hygiene and food safety and hygiene is still limited and causing difficulties in management. The coordination between the city and the provinces is not close therefore the owners of meat sources still transport poultry to the provinces for slaughtering and back to the city for consumption, causing difficulties in quarantine and control of meat sources in the market. Most of the pork imported to Binh Dien wholesale market are slaughtered at Long An slaughterhouse, so it is necessary to have the cooperation of Long An province to achieve better results according to the city's scheme.
- Difficulty in food safety management at commune levels
Food safety management at ward and commune levels still faces many limitations, because the personnel in charge of food safety mainly work on a part-time basis. Therefore, the implementation of the task is still spread, especially in the inspection and supervision, officers have not yet strictly handled violations, have limited coordination of inspection, etc. Market management board is as ineffectual in role of checking the origin of products traded at the market to detect and quickly report small businesses that purchase unsafe food products to functional units at urban district, ward People's committee, in order to promptly handle them. It is also difficult to identify sources of food traded in the market.
SOLUTIONS TO INNOVATING AND SCALING UP THE MODEL OF THE SINGLE AGENCY FOR FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT IN HCM CITY
Innovating food safety management policies and institutions in the value chain: The city needs to continue to develop and implement projects, schemes and programs to ensure the safety of the pork chain such as the project "Safety in the Food Chain," the project "Management, identification and traceability for the pork, ” the program on food safety of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the city from 2016-2020; support the district to implement "Ensuring food safety at traditional markets" model, especially strengthen the strict control of traceability during the outbreak of African swine fever. In addition, the city needs to strengthen responsibility in state management of food safety at the grassroots level, especially at the commune and ward levels.
Innovating and perfecting the management model: The city needs to continue to improve coordination with other provinces in managing and connecting safe pork consumption. The traceability must be implemented in all other provinces and cities in the country, but not only in HCM city. Applying only in HCM city makes no sense. The authorities need to quickly set out regulations to unify all localities to apply synchronously, further support the breeders in order to better implement the project. In addition, the city needs to strengthen its veterinary activities to check the pig rings at the gate before traders purchase and transfer. The authorities also need to link the entities participating in the supply chain in the scheme. It requires that participating subjects should provide and synchronize information so that product reaches the consumers to activate it because this is a strict management, identification and traceability procedure. The city needs to promote to establish chains of links from breeding stocks, animal feeds, slaughtering, and distribution to the market. In particular, it is necessary to assign clear roles and responsibilities at each stage joining the chain: stores, enterprises, and slaughterhouses. In particular, it is necessary to check the actual number of pigs raised at the breeding facility in order to prevent lending of codes, the number of pigs for sale is greater than the actual number of pigs raised.
The Food Safety Management Board will be the authority that issues the tracking codes for the pig traders. At the same time, it adjusts the traceability process to force traders to declare the code provided in the traceability process. When traders violate food safety regulations, they must be removed from the scheme. At the same time, physical inspection at the slaughterhouses participating in the scheme to serve as a basis for livestock establishments that do not wear identification rings on pig's feet after they have been activated.
Innovating the propaganda and communication on chain-based food safety management: The city needs to strengthen the capacity of the food safety management system combined with propaganda for consumers about how pigs are wearing rings, codes and stamps are safe pigs for people to choose and buy. Small-scale producers have faced difficulties in purchasing pig rings and have not yet grasped the information about registering these rings, so training courses to raise awareness for interest groups are required to solve this problem.
The study shows the current status of the state management on food safety of pork value chains in HCM city. A single agency model of HCM city Food Safety Manangement Board is considered as a new point in food safety management for creating unity, consistency, and prompt solutions to food safety management. Especially, the unified force helps the city Food Safety Management Board have enough resources to arrange inter-district food safety management teams to support the local. HCM city is the first province in the country to conduct traceability for pigs to manage pork that enter wholesale markets. The management of wearing rings for pigs helps to improve food safety management. However, the state management system on food safety in the pork value chain still has some limitations. There is difficulty in controlling pork from other provinces transported to wholesale markets and retail markets. SDAH does not control pork from provinces, due to the presence of a highway, the vehicles that transport pigs into the city passing through the high-speed stations are expempt from the control of SDAH at transport hubs. The existing manual slaughtering facilities are not invested and upgraded, therefore the compliance with regulations on minimizing odor, noise, veterinary hygiene and food safety and hygiene is still limited, causing difficulties in management. The coordination between the city and the provinces is not close therefore the owners of meat sources still transport poultry to the provinces for slaughtering and back to the city for consumption, causing difficulties in quarantine and control of meat sources in the market. Enforcement in charge of food safety at the commune level mainly works as part-time officers, therefore the implementation of the tasks is spread out, especially in the inspection and supervision officers that have not yet strictly handled violations and have limited in inspection coordination.
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