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Hanoi workshop held on providing safer pork products in Vietnam

A local pork vendor at the wet market sells her meat to two local women, Hung Yen province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen).

This article is written by Chi Nguyen, communications officer for ILRI Asia.

A two-day workshop, 7–8 Sep 2017, on the topic of ‘Improving food safety along the pork value chain—lessons learned and ways forward’, kicked off at the Hanoi Hotel on Thursday morning with an opening address by Chu Van Chuong, deputy director of the international cooperation department of the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. In his speech, Chuong said, ‘We look forward to further improvements through projects such as those being reviewed today. In the context of food safety, projects like PigRISK and SafePORK are welcome as they can provide policymakers and the public with scientific evidence that leads to actionable policy options to better manage food safety and provide assurance to producers and consumers alike.’

The workshop brought together more than 80 key stakeholders from the livestock, animal health and public health sectors of Vietnam—representatives from donor, government and United Nations agencies, from multilateral and non-government organizations, and from civil society, academia and the private sector—to find ways to make sure that pig production, processing and sale of pork is safer.

Pork makes up 75 per cent of all the meat consumed in Vietnam and most of these pork products (83%) are produced by small-scale farmers and are sold in traditional ‘wet’ markets. As pigs can carry high levels of pathogens, ensuring the safety of the country’s pork products is an issue of growing concern among the public and policymakers. Although smallholders involved in pig production are vulnerable to breakdowns in food safety, research through a partnership between the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH), the Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) shows that with appropriate risk management approaches, these systems can efficiently deliver safe pork to Vietnam’s consumers.

The workshop and related projects are funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and co-organized by ILRI, VNUA and HUPH.

The workshop consisted of two parts: (1) the closing (on 7 Sep 2017) of a project on ‘Reducing disease risks and improving food safety in smallholder pig value chains in Vietnam’, known as PigRISK, and (2) the launching (on 8 Sep) of a project on ‘Market-based approaches to improving the safety of pork in Vietnam’, known as SafePORK.

In the morning session of the first day, key research findings were shared by PigRISK scientists regarding pork value chain characteristics, animal health and food safety assessments, and more specifically pork-related hazards and risks and the costs of food-borne diseases in humans. In the afternoon session, the participants discussed actionable policy to better manage food safety along Vietnam’s pig value chains.

On the second day of the workshop, the new SafePORK project—its objectives, approaches and outputs—was introduced. Experts shared their experiences of promising food safety interventions in developing-country contexts and of promising food safety initiatives in Vietnam. Before concluding with the best ways forward, the workshop participants discussed ‘risk communications’—which experts believe have particular potential to strengthen pork safety in Vietnam.

Recommendations from the workshop will be followed up by the SafePORK project team over the next five years (2017–2022).

Further information
For further information, please contact Chi Nguyen, communications officer, c.nguyen@cgiar.org, +84 (0)936 066 152.

The PigRISK project (Jun 2012¬Sep 2017) provides in-depth assessments for animal health and food safety risk (chemical and biological hazards) along the small-scale pig value chain in Hung Yen and Nghe An provinces. Some of these assessments (such as estimates of the actual consumer risks of contracting illness from consuming pork infected with Salmonella) are the first of their kind in Vietnam). The project has been implemented by ILRI in partnership with the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH) and the Vietnam University of Agriculture. (VNUA). http://www.pigrisk.wikispaces.com

The SafePORK project (2017–2022) will work to better manage food safety risks determined by the PigRISK project through the design and testing of promising interventions tailored to specific formal and informal pork value chains and ranging from rapid cheap diagnostic tests to branding and/or certification schemes for pork products. Emphasis will be given to involving the private sector. In addition to HUPH and VNUA, the project partners include Vietnam’s National Institute for Agriculture Science (NIAS) and Australia’s University of Sydney. (Website being developed.)

The Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH) is the leading institution in public health training. Its vision is to become a regional-class training centre and research academia. The Centre for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER), established in Jun 2012, is a unit of HUPH focusing on interdisciplinary research. CENPHER puts a focus on three development directions— research, training and service delivery—to promote links between health and the environment in Vietnam and the region. http://www.cenpher.huph.edu.vn/home

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. ILRI’s mission is to improve food and nutritional security and to reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock—ensuring better lives through livestock. http://www.ilri.org

The National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has a mandate for planning and designing national research programs in animal science; implementing and managing national research programs; undertaking studies on animal breeding and genetics to improve animal performance; conducting studies on economics, livestock farming systems and marketing; and undertaking studies on animal feed, nutrition and related issues, including feed analysis, nutrient requirements for different species of animals and feeding regimes. http://www.vcn.vnn.vn

The Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA) is a leading national university in human resource training and scientific research in agriculture and rural development. VNUA is ambitious to become a leading multi-disciplinary research university in the country and region. VNUA collaborates with 114 universities worldwide and international development agencies including ACIAR, Belgium, the European Commission, ILRI, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank. http://www.vnua.edu.vn/eng

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