Launch of Food Safety Technical Working Group in Vietnam

Integration of a technical working group to strengthen food safety framework in Vietnam

In its continuing commitments to improve food safety, Vietnam has integrated a Food Safety Technical Working Group within the framework of the country’s One Health Partnership. The official working group launch took place on 28 September 2023 in Hanoi at a meeting attended by more than 100 food safety experts from various government agencies, development partners, research institutions, private sector, along with distinguished delegates from One Health regional networks from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the International Livestock Institute (ILRI), co-chaired the meeting

Vu Thanh Liem, deputy director general of MARD's International Cooperation Department (ICD) emphasized Vietnam's comprehensive legal framework for food safety, exemplified by the presence of 25 relevant legal documents. He noted, however, that implementation and enforcement of these regulations remains a significant challenge that can only be tackled through inter-sectoral coordination among ministries and sectors for robust food safety management.

Vu Thanh Liem, deputy director general of MARD's International Cooperation Department (ICD) and Fred Unger, ILRI regional representative for Southeast Asia co-chair the launch (photo credit: MARD/Tran Ngoc Son).

Fred Unger, ILRI regional representative for Southeast Asia, highlighted the working group’s evolution since 2015 when it emerged from the joint work of development and private sector partners and government agencies. Unger said the working group’s operations and approach will be guided by leadership from the One Health Partnership.

The newly integrated group will be a mechanism for gathering relevant stakeholders, sharing experiences, proposing initiatives, and enhancing multi-sectoral coordination and multi-stakeholder cooperation for food safety. Its goals align with the goals of the One Health Partnership Framework and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to food systems.

Luu Duc Du from Vietnam Food Safety Administration, Ministry of Health presents about food safety management under the ministry (photo credit: MARD/Tran Ngoc Son).

Key discussions during the launch of the working group included presentations on the status of food safety by MARD, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Industry and TradeThe three government agencies highlighted unhygienic and unsafe commercial products, unknown food origins, the use of banned chemicals and growth stimulants in livestock farming, and poor processing standards as areas needing collective action to improve safety in Vietnam. 

Hung Nguyen, co-leader of ILRI’s Animal Human Health program and CGIAR Initiative on One Health lead, presented a global perspective on food safety in low- and middle-income countries. His insights provided participants with valuable comparisons and lessons from other countries, emphasizing the importance of international collaboration in addressing shared food safety challenges.

Discussions during the meeting also focused on the terms of reference (TOR) for the Food Safety Technical Working Group. Notably, the TOR introduced a rotating chair mechanism, with ILRI initially assuming this role and subsequent chairs to be chosen voluntarily from among partners. This approach aims to diversify leadership perspectives and distribute responsibilities equitably. Additionally, the TOR emphasized flexibility in addressing technical areas of work. The working group members will collectively decide on specific themes for discussion. 

Food safety experts from various government agencies, development partners, research academia and private sector gather at the launch (photo credit: MARD/Tran Ngoc Son).

Delegates from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand praised the One Health Partnership Framework noting that it had created mechanisms that have enhanced food safety coordination in Vietnam and expressed their commitment to supporting the implementation of national and sectoral goals on food safety. 

The working group members underscored the importance of international cooperation and support, particularly in the face of limited domestic resources. Participants emphasized the need to share information responsibility, propose policies, establish multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms, and mobilize resources to ensure food safety in health, agriculture, and industry and trade sectors. 

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the World Bank, the Alinea International, Cargill, TE-Food and other partners at the meeting, expressed their commitment to supporting Vietnam in improving Vietnam’s food safety.

The One Health Partnership Framework will continue coordinating, facilitating, and bridging the gap between domestic stakeholders and international development partners. This will be through the exchange of research evidence, experiences, and practical knowledge on both international and national food safety programs. 

The meeting was jointly hosted by MARD ICD and ILRI with funding support from the three-year (2022–24) CGIAR Initiative on One Health and the CGIAR ASEAN Food Innovative Program.

Read the meeting minutes for further information

Read more about the event on Vietnam Agriculture Newspaper:

In English: 

In Vietnamese: