26.11.2020, 09:13

Vietnam to test food imported from coronavirus-hit countries

Vietnam will test food, especially frozen items, imported from coronavirus hit countries to prevent a possible spread of the virus into the country, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

A medical staff is taking samples of imported frozen food for COVID-19 testing

The MoH on November 24 sent a dispatch to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry and Trade, the General Department of Vietnam Customs, and the People’s Committees of provinces and cites, notifying them of the new measure.

The MoH proposed that the designated bodies instruct their relevant agencies to collect samples from imported food packaging items, especially for frozen food, for testing. Test results will be then sent to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control for evaluation.

Furthermore, relevant agencies must also ask firms involved in importing food items to strengthen measures aimed at preventing and controlling the COVID-19 epidemic, along with strictly complying with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s direction on bolstering prevention activities.

The new measure was introduced following recent discoveries of live coronavirus on frozen food packaging in some countries.

Most notably, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that they found live coronavirus on frozen food packaging in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao, a discovery which suggests the virus is capable of surviving in cold supply chains.

China also suspended imports of fishery products from Indonesia in mid-September due to COVID-19 contamination found in the outer packages. A month earlier, it also reported that frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil contained traces of the virus, as well as on frozen prawns brought in from Ecuador.

In total, China has reported approximately 10 cases of SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 virus, being found in frozen products or on packaging.

Despite these findings, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said they have yet to issue a document relating to implementing inspection work on imported food coming into Vietnam.

According to an official of Regional Animal Health Office No.6 (RAHO6), upon hearing the news of the discoveries of coronavirus on frozen food packaging in China, the RAHO6 quickly took 171 samples of cattle, poultry, fishery products, and frozen food packaging imported from 15 countries. They were also tested for traces of COVID-19, with all of the results coming back negative.