A new joint program was recently signed in Hanoi to encourage 100,000 livestock farmers to commit to end the use of banned substances. In the spotlight are beta-agonists, including clenbuterol, salbutamol and ractopamine, fed to stimulate growth and make the animals lean.
The joint program was signed by the Department of Livestock Production at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Animal Husbandry Association of Viet Nam (AHAV), the Agro Nutrition International Joint-Stock Company (ANCO) and the Viet Phap Feed Joint-stock Company. It aims to spread the message of “Saying NO to banned substances” to ensure the safety of the breeding sector and make its products more competitive.
Awareness campaign planned
Throughout 2016, there will be nationwide activities involving information and training to 100,000 households to raise awareness of the issue, persuade them not to use the banned substances and inform them about other, safe methods to improve production.
“Solving the problem of using banned substances in breeding is the most important work of the department this year,” said Hoang Thanh Van, director of the Department of Livestock Production. “Raising breeders’ awareness and giving them assistance is a long-term measure. We greatly appreciate the involvement of different sectors, organizations and breeding enterprises in such meaningful programs.”
“It is easy to ban, but the difficult work is giving breeders education so that they have are aware of the issue and choose not to use the banned substances on their farms,” said Doan Xuan Truc, AHAV deputy chairman and general secretary.
Low penalties, greedy traders and buyers who do not understand about safe food are blamed by VietNamNet Bridge for the widespread use of the banned substances and to unsafe and even toxic food in Vietnam.
Inspections show banned substances used often
In the first 10 days of inspection in early 2016, the veterinary department in Ho Chi Minh City detected nearly 1,000 pigs contaminated with banned substances, sometimes at thousands of times the maximum permitted level and from repeat offenders.
When a pig’s urine tests positive for one of the substances, the regulation demands that the animal is kept alive for a second confirmatory test a week later. A department official told the newspaper that the animal is usually sold by the owner elsewhere in the meantime, without sanctions. As each pig treated with beta-agonist earns the farmer a profit of around 1 million dong (VND; US$45), there is little incentive to abide by the law.
In November of last year, it was reported that Vietnam’s Animal Feed Division of the Animal Husbandry Department planned to crack down on the use of the banned substances in animal feed production and trading establishments and at pig farms and slaughterhouses in the south of the country. The move followed the detection of traces of beta-agonist in pig meat and beef from several slaughterhouses in Ho Chi Minh City.