Health minister claims unsafe food not major cause for cancer

09:54 22/04/2017
Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said that dirty food is not the major cause of cancer in Vietnam, but it is acute infection and chronic diseases.

Minister Tien made the claim at a meeting in Hanoi on April 20 to hear about the National Assembly’s report on reviewing food safety policies in the 2011-2016 period.

According to Head of the National Assembly’s Science, Technology and Environment Committee Phan Xuan Dung, during the phase, more than 1,000 food poisoning cases occurred across the country, affecting around 30,400 people. Among those, 25,600 were hospitalised and 164 died.

Every year, up to 70,000 people die of cancer in Vietnam while the country also sees more than 200,000 new cancer patients. This has been partially attributed to unsafe food.

In many localities, when being checked, lots of traders failed to show certificates of origin for their products as well as papers related to the use of pesticides.

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien (middle) speaks at a meeting on reviewing food safety policies in the 2011-2016 period in Hanoi on April 20.

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien blamed the increasing violations of food safety on weak sanctions, suggesting they be redefined as criminal cases.

She claimed that unsafe food was not the major cause of cancer in Vietnam, but was responsible for acute infectious diseases and Hepatitis B and C which could cause cancer. This was identified by both local and foreign experts who participated in recent seminars held by the Ministry of Health.

At the meeting, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan expressed her worry over the limited awareness over food safety. Large numbers of people are willing to violate food safety regulations to financially benefit themselves.

“Many households divide different vegetable plots for themselves and for sale. They use clean vegetables but sell those contaminated with chemicals. This adds one more risk to people who are facing too many dangers such as traffic accidents and environmental problems every day”, she added.

She emphasised the importance of co-operation between different agencies and ministries to fight against unsafe food.