Processing companies argue that the quality of the raw material bought from shrimp producers cannot be monitored. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Antibiotic residues still causing problems for seafood exporters
Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
Importers continue to reject export consignments due to high antibiotic residues despite strict examinations by the National Agro Forestry Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (Nafiqad). More than half of aquaculture consignments have been found to be tainted with antibiotic residues even though enterprises insist they have obeyed regulations on sample testing and obtained Nafiqad’s certificates prior to shipping.
Seafood processing companies claim that while they are reinforcing control in the processing phase, they cannot control all material sources, as most companies have to buy materials from farmers or imports.
According to Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) Nguyen Huu Dung, Nafiqad is only responsible for examining the food hygiene at the processing phase. No agency has taken over during farming and transport, VietNamNet Bridge reports.
Nafiqad said supervising all the phases of the production chain should be up to local agriculture departments, but the departments say they lack enough officers and adequate conditions to undertake this work, Dung noted.
“A paradox exists that in the last many years, we have neglected the supervision over the input materials, while we have gathered all the strength to supervise the processing phase,” Dung commented.
Duong Ngoc Minh, general director of Hung Vuong Seafood Company, said that when shrimp and fish become diseased, farmers would have to medicate them. Fishers also must use all possible measures to protect their catch during their lengthy voyages.
This cannot be controlled by enterprises and the State still has not stipulated the pertinent regulations.
Minh also said that 95 per cent of the materials for shrimp processing come from farmers, so enterprises cannot really control the quality of shrimp products.
But companies can control the quality of 50 per cent of tra fish (pangasius) because they develop materials themselves.
Meanwhile, Phan Thanh Chien, general director of Hai Viet Company, said some Japanese shrimp importers have begun working with Indonesian exporters instead.
Shrimp exports to Japan now must undergo antibiotics tests. Testing fees are USD 2,000 per container -- fees that have been burdening export companies.
“We hope the State would set up reasonable policies to settle the problem,” Chien said.
VASEP has confirmed that the testing fees enterprises have to pay have doubled and now it takes more time: 7-10 days, which has weakened the competitiveness of Vietnamese exporters.
Chien asserts that it would benefit Vietnam to apply Thai control methods whereby a government agency is responsible for supervising aquaculture operations.
VASEP wants testing practices of seafood exporters to be modified so they can meet standards and quality can increase. To save time and money, the association proposed moving the testing phase up from the exported consignments to the raw materials, TBKTSG reports.
By Natalia Real