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Uncontrolled 'clean' vegetables find way into top supermarkets in Vietnam

Many Vietnamese consumers are willing to pay high prices to buy safe and VietGAP standard - quality vegetables sold at supermarkets. However, consumers could not have expected that some companies had gathered vegetables from the wet market, which cannot be traced for origin, labeled VietGAP and sold it to the supermarkets.

On September 19, a report on Tuoi Tre Newspaper said that from August to mid-September, the vegetable processing facility is located at Viager Company Limited (Binh Chieu Ward, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City) has "transformed" vegetables from the wholesale market into "Da Lat clean vegetables", VietGAP standard. These products are then labeled by Trinh Nhi Agricultural Products Co., Ltd (also known as Trinh Nhi Foods, TNFoods) and sold at a number of stores under WinCommerce, 3 Clean and TikiNGON.

So-claimed VietGAP vegetables can be easily found on the shelves of any big supermarkets (thanhnien)
So-claimed VietGAP vegetables can be easily found on the shelves of any big supermarkets (thanhnien)

Talking to Zing at noon on the same day, a representative of Masan Group (the owner of the WinCommerce chain) said that it had immediately stopped importing and removed all of Trinh Nhi's goods from the shelves. The business is currently working with this unit and independently verifying the information stated in the article. He emphasised: "WinCommerce affirms that this is not the company's business policy. We always fully comply with food hygiene and safety regulations with a strict quality control process to ensure the health of consumers. In addition to working with Trinh Nhi, WinCommerce is also conducting a review of all other vegetable suppliers ".

Similarly, Mr. Nguyen Quach Nhi, Sales Director of TikiNGON food and fast-moving consumer goods, affirmed to accept responsibility and said that he would conduct a rigorous review once again the quality of all current distributors. According to him, the enterprise is quickly taking samples, reviewing all fruit and vegetable products and setting up a process to send for independent testing of biochemical indicators at large and reputable testing centers every month.

Staff putting VietGAP labels on vegetables gathered from markets (thanhnien)
Staff putting VietGAP labels on vegetables gathered from markets (thanhnien)

Despite the effort to build a clean, healthy and well-recognised range of vegetables for Vietnamese consumers, many traders are taking the advantage of the VietGAP certification to sell unqualified products at a much higher price. From an investigation, staffs at a vegetable barn at Thu Duc wholesale market specialises in selling bitter melon, tomatoes, baby cucumbers, zucchini, gourds... and even green tea leaves said that VietGAP certificate can be provided as "I have to have papers, but to deal with bad situations.", but in general, the farm can provide both non VietGAP and VietGAP certified products. Like other small traders, the farmer said that many parties choose to source vegetables at the wet market because they are cheap, if VietGAP standards are met, the price is high and hence the products cannot be competitive.

Vietnamese customers are in a maze of purchasing clean meat and vegetables, which greatly affect their quality of life. It is more urgent than ever before to set a stricter standard and regulation to control the trading of vegetables in Vietnam to protect the health and rights of consumers.



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