Vietnamese consumer group eats humble pie for spreading fish sauce scare

By Anh Minh   November 28, 2016 | 01:53 am PT
Vietnamese consumer group eats humble pie for spreading fish sauce scare
Shoppers walk past shelves of soy sauce, fish sauce, and cooking oil at a supermarket in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters
Authorities have yet to punish the group even after condemning it for 'causing damage to fish sauce producers.'

A Vietnamese consumer protection group has issued a written apology to local consumers and fish sauce producers for spreading false information about the quality of the country's traditional fish sauce.

The Vietnam Standards and Consumers Association, known as Vinastas, released a survey on October 17 saying that nearly 70 percent of the 150 tested samples of traditional fish sauce on the market had excess levels of arsenic.

The Vietnamese government, however, dismissed the findings, and said the organic arsenic found in fish sauce is safe and should be distinguished from its inorganic form.

In the letter of apology, the consumer group said: “Vinastas would like to send an apology to consumers, fish sauce producers and traders for the incident. We will criticize individuals involved in the case and review our working regulations to prevent similar incidents.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in late October said that they were considering suspending Vinatas' operations after the organization “affected the business environment, causing damage to fish sauce producers”. But to date, no penalty has been issued.

The Ministry of Information and Communications recently fined 50 media outlets for publishing articles about the Vinatas study and its findings, with the maximum penalty reaching VND200 million ($8,800). 

Fish sauce is an essential condiment used in Vietnamese cooking. The country consumes around 200 million liters of fish sauce every year. Annual sales of fish sauce in the country are worth VND7.2-7.5 trillion ($320-333 million), according to the General Statistics Office.

Related news:

Vietnam's consumer group misled public with fish sauce quality claims, ministry confirms

Organic arsenic in fish sauce safe for humans: experts

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