Food safety, air pollution top social concerns in Vietnam

By Phan Anh   May 20, 2019 | 05:01 pm PT
Food safety, air pollution top social concerns in Vietnam
Thick fog blankets high-rise buildings in Hanoi in a morning in January 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Food safety and air pollution are issues that concern urban Vietnamese the most, a recent survey has found.

The survey, done by market research firm Indochina Research, interviewed more than 300 people aged 18 to 60 in the country's biggest cities Hanoi and Saigon, about what they thought were the most pressing social concerns.

A very high 86 percent identified food safety, while 77 percent said air pollution. Other issues of concern to comprise the top five were water pollution, sexual harassment and healthcare.

While Saigon residents cared more about healthcare and education access, gender discrimination, unfair competition and racism, Hanoians worried about air pollution.

Women in particular paid much more attention to food safety, healthcare access and sexual harassment than men, according to the survey released late last month.

People from lower-income backgrounds cared more about healthcare, clean water and access to education access, while higher-incomers paid more attention to sexual harassment and corruption. The survey findings suggested that low-income people tend to care more about issues that directly affect their daily lives, rather than political or global issues.

Food poisoning is not an uncommon occurrence in Vietnam, with local media reporting several cases of people being sent to the hospital over the issue. Last year, 55 children aged 7 to 12 had to be hospitalized after a church service in Saigon where they were served bread rolls and chicken floss. Hanoi also reported a similar incident last year when 188 nursery kids were hospitalized with food poisoning symptoms after partaking of a buffet with sausages, beef, rice and vegetables.

586 cases of food poisoning, leading to three deaths, were recorded in the country in the first four months of this year, according to the General Statistics Office.

Last year, Vietnam recorded over 68,000 facilities violating food safety standards, it was revealed at a government meeting on food safety. Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam blamed it on food processing practices.

Meanwhile, Hanoi was ranked the second most polluted city in Southeast Asia in a World Air Quality Report prepared by Switzerland-based air quality monitor IQ AirVisual. Saigon was ranked 15th in the report that was released in March.

It said there was a strong correlation between industry, transportation and air pollution in urban areas. Hanoi in particular, which has 7.7 million people, has more than five million motorbikes and 550,000 cars.

However, Vo Tuan Nhan, deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environment, rejected the report’s findings, saying it was based on incomplete data as the report did not cover all cities of 11 Southeast Asian countries.

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