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Seafood firms upbeat about tougher safety standards
24 | 08 | 2007
Seafood companies are actually upbeat about a new regulation taking effect today that toughen hygiene and safety standards for products destined for Japan.

Starting today, companies must have a certificate from the Ministry of Fisheries guaranteeing that their products are free or have acceptable limits of antibiotic residues before shipping. Decision 06/2007/QD-BTS, which was issued on July 11, applies to shellfish, squid and octopus.

"The decision is a way to control the quality of seafood exports to Japan," said Nguyen Thi Minh Tam, chief of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP)'s Office. "The decision will help exporters to Japan by building a reputation of quality seafood products from the Vietnamese producers."

Tam indicated that it was only a handful of companies that violated hygiene and safety standards that led to the ministry decision.

Le Van Diep, finance director of Minh Phu Seafood JSC, said the new quality control standards will be a boon for his company, which will now have an easier time protecting its reputation in the Japanese market and will hopefully sign more supply contracts as a result.

"The company applies strict quality control standards throughout processing, and now there is an official certificate to prove it," said Diep. Minh Phu ships 15-20 per cent of its goods to Japan annually.

Throughout 2006 and the early part of 2007, Japanese officials rejected Vietnamese exports due to the presence of antibiotics and other chemicals. The problem led to the Ministry of Fisheries decision earlier this month.

Beginning today, if a company fails to pass hygiene and safety checks twice and then is issued a third warning from Japan, the company will be put on a black list. There are other cases in which a company can be banned.

The company can be taken off the black list after it issues a report identifying the root of the problem and has taken the necessary correctional steps, which have been verified by the National Fisheries Quality Assurance and Veterinary Directorte (Nafiqaved).

Exporters will no longer be subject to checks on shipments to Japan after they have passed 10 consecutive tests, the ministry said.

The fisheries ministry is also urging companies to conduct independent checks on seafood products before processing

Source: Vietnam News
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