Vietnam reports first death from recent cholera outbreak

A dog meat vendor weighs produce at his shop in Hanoi

A dog meat vendor weighs produce at his shop in Hanoi

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam has recorded its first cholera death during an outbreak that has spread to 11 out of 63 provinces and cities across the communist nation, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The 50-year-old victim from northern Ninh Binh province died on May 12 a few hours after hospitalisation, said a Ministry of Health website report.

The victim was an alcoholic who tested positive for vibrio cholera bacteria. He had diarrhoea and serious dehydration, the ministry said.

It added that a total of 53 patients have been confirmed with cholera since April 20, while more than 500 others had acute diarrhoea.

In March and April last year the country battled cholera outbreaks which hit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 16 other provinces. More than 100 people were infected but no fatalities were reported.

Vietnam has a long standing problem with food safety and hygiene.

Authorities in Hanoi have temporarily closed at least a dozen dog slaughterhouses — where the popular meat is prepared — over fears their unhygienic conditions may help spread cholera bacteria to people, an official said Monday.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria vibrio cholera. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can lead to kidney failure and death if untreated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says cholera can be easily avoided through good hygiene, especially by washing hands with soap after using the toilet.

The WHO on Tuesday referred to a 2006 survey of rural sanitation that found only 12 percent of people washed their hands before eating, 15.5 percent washed after urinating, and 16.9 percent cleaned their hands after defecating. The survey was carried out by Vietnam’s Department of Preventative Medicine and Environment.

Bacteria from the faeces of a contaminated person are one of the main sources of cholera contamination, the WHO says.

As part of its joining the World Trade Organization two years ago, Vietnam’s food safety needs to adapt to international standards, WHO said.

“Coordination of activities to ensure safe practices into the entire food chain is a challenging task for Vietnam’s government,” it said.

Vietnam dog slaughterhouses shut on health fears

A dog slaughterhouse is seen in Hanoi

A dog slaughterhouse is seen in Hanoi

May 18, 2009

HANOI (AFP) — Authorities in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi have temporarily closed at least a dozen dog slaughterhouses on fears their unclean conditions may help spread cholera bacteria to people, an official said Monday.

Dog meat is a popular dish in Vietnam.

It was unclear when the slaughterhouses in Hanoi’s suburban Duong Noi would be allowed to resume operations, local official Nguyen Thi Thuc told AFP, without providing more details.

The health ministry said on its website that cholera bacteria had been found in the slaughterhouses.

Cholera is spread through unsafe food.

Eight northern cities and provinces are presently hit by outbreaks of acute diarrhoea, including hundreds of cases of suspected cholera, officials and press reports said.

Communist Vietnam has a longstanding problem with food safety and hygiene.

In March and April last year the country battled cholera outbreaks which hit Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and 16 other provinces. More than 100 people were infected but no fatalities were reported.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria vibrio cholera. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can lead to kidney failure and death if untreated.

Vietnam Coffee-Farmers sell more as prices rise

HANOI, April 14 – Coffee sales in Vietnam further strengthened in the past week as farmers sold more stocks of the commodity to exploit higher prices and strong demand from exporters, traders said on Tuesday.

They said domestic prices had risen more than 6 percent in the past month on robust demand from foreign buyers as well as higher London futures prices.

On Tuesday, the industry body Vietnam Coffee Association (Vicofa) said domestic prices in Daklak, Lam Dong and Gia Lai, the country’s largest growing provinces, averaged 24,900 dong-25,000 dong ($1.4-$1.41) per kg, from 24,800 dong on Monday and 23,500 dong a month ago.

Free-on-board prices for spot shipments stood at $1,450 a tonne on Tuesday, up $15 from $1,435 on Monday and $1,430 a tonne a week ago, Vicofa said.

“We expect sales from farmers to stay strong throughout this week as the current price level should encourage them to unload stocks,” a trader in Daklak capital Buon Ma Thuot said.

Traders said discounts to London’s May contract stood at $120 per tonne for spot shipment, making Vietnamese robusta grade 2, 5 percent broken at $1,450 a tonne, free-on-board basis , in line with Vicofa’s reports.

About 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres) of coffee crops in Daklak, Vietnam’s top growing province, are being affected by a severe dryness, state media quoted the provincial government as saying this week.

The six-month dry season is in full swing in Daklak. It often ends late this month or in early May.

Vietnam, the world’s second-largest coffee producer after Brazil, forecast last week its exports of the commodity would be steady at between 900,000 tonnes and 1 million tonnes (15 million-16.7 million bags) this year and in 2010 [ID:nHAN497014].

The coffee crop year runs from October to September but all government reports on production and trade in coffee, 95 percent of which is the robusta variety used for making soluble coffee, are based on the calendar year.

Most of this year’s coffee exports will come from the 2008/2009 harvest that ended in January. Farmers often retain part of the current stock to blend with beans from the next harvest due to start in late October for sales.

The coffee association has revised down nearly 6 percent its estimate of the harvest output, to 16 million bags, from a December figure of 17 million bags.

Vietnam exported 10.08 million bags between last October and March 2009, up 16.2 percent from a year earlier, government statistics show. ($1=17,750 dong)

Vietnam capital bans poultry transport by motorbike: report

Vietnam capital bans poultry transport by motorbike

Vietnam capital bans poultry transport by motorbike

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam’s capital Hanoi has banned the transportation of poultry and cattle on motorbikes and bicycles for fear it could help spread epidemics, state media said Tuesday.

The ruling, which was issued on January 22 but only became effective Monday, said poultry, cattle and their associated products must be transported using specialised vehicles only, said online VietnamNet.

However, the newsite ran a video clip showing live meat products were being driven in the city early Tuesday morning on motorbikes, a popular means of transport in Vietnam for poultry, pigs or even dogs.

At present, Vietnam, which has been frequently hit by the H5N1 strain of bird flu since 2003, reports the avian influenza among ducks only in the Mekong delta province of Ca Mau.

The country has already seen a human bird flu case this year, an eight-year-old girl from northern Thanh Hoa province who has now recovered.

According to health officials, her 13-year-old sister earlier died in hospital but was not tested for H5N1 before she was buried.

Bird flu has killed 52 people in Vietnam, while the world’s highest death toll belongs to Indonesia with 113 fatalities.

Vietnam to grow genetically modified crops: reports

Cao Duc Phat

Cao Duc Phat

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam plans to test genetically modified (GM) agricultural crops from now until 2010 and then grow them on a large scale, media reports in the communist country said on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat announced the plan in a National Assembly session this week, said the state-run Vietnam News Agency.

Under the government plan, Vietnam would from 2011 plant GM species of maize, cotton and soybean, said the news site Vietnamnet quoting experts attending a recent biotechnology workshop.

The Ho Chi Minh City Biotechnology Centre plans to grow a GM maize variety from the Philippines on a trial basis, the report said.

GM technology has been highly controversial, praised by some for increasing yields and improving varieties, and condemned by others for creating “frankenfoods” that pose dangers to the environment and people’s health.

Environmental group Greenpeace has called for a worldwide recall of GM foods, with a spokesman saying this week that distributing them was “like playing Russian roulette with consumers and public health.”

AFP: Vietnam to grow genetically modified crops: reports

Vietnam finds tainted milk from China

The Associated Press
Friday, October 3, 2008

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnam’s health ministry has discovered the toxin at the heart of China’s tainted milk scandal in 18 products and has ordered importers to recall and destroy them, officials said Friday.

Recent tests found the industrial chemical melamine in dairy products and biscuits imported from China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, according to a statement on the Ministry of Health’s Web site.

Milk containing melamine has been blamed for killing four babies and sickening more than 54,000 others in China, sparking global concerns about food products made with Chinese milk or milk powder.

The Vietnamese statement did not list all the brand names that tested positive for melamine, but among them were five different varieties of Yili milk from China.

“We will intensify our inspections for melamine contamination to ensure the safety of consumers,” said Nguyen Thi Khanh Tram, vice director of Vietnam’s food safety administration.

Most of the contaminated items were milk and dairy products from China, the ministry said.

However, they also included biscuits imported from Malaysia and Indonesia as well as a powdered dairy creamer imported from Thailand. It was not clear whether the products had been produced in those countries or simply shipped to Vietnam from warehouses there.

Even before the test results were announced, retailers across Vietnam had begun removing tons of Chinese dairy products from their shelves and importers have been destroying them, according to Vietnamese media reports.

Vietnamese authorities have also said they will require all milk products to be tested before they can be imported into the country.

The milk scandal has sparked global concern about Chinese food imports and recalls in several countries of Chinese-made products.

Vietnam finds tainted milk from China – International Herald Tribune

Vietnam beefs up milk scrutiny as China scandal grows

More milk products of dubious origin unearthed as authorities conduct nationwide inspections.

The HCMC health watchdog quarantines YiLi milk products imported by the Kim An Company before destroying them.

The HCMC health watchdog quarantines YiLi milk products imported by the Kim An Company before destroying them.

Local authorities have been asked to inspect milk products and materials imported from China and promptly halt circulation of those that do not carry the required labels.

In an urgent dispatch issued Monday, Deputy Health Minister Cao Minh Quang instructed local health departments to work with agencies to collect samples of imported milk, particularly those from China, to examine whether they had been contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in various industrial and agricultural applications.

The test results must be reported back to the Ministry of Health at the soonest, the dispatch stressed.

Milk products and materials without legitimate labels must be taken out of circulation.

The ministry also Monday blacklisted 22 Chinese dairy firms that had sold melamine-contaminated products.

The Food Hygiene Safety Bureau has been asked to make a thorough review of documents pertaining to the license of imported milk to see if the blacklisted companies had sold their products in Vietnam.

The Ministry of Health urged intensified scrutiny of imported milk products as China’s toxic milk scandal escalated Monday with officials admitting around 53,000 children had been hospitalized after drinking milk presumably contaminated by melamine, the AFP reports.

Most had “basically recovered” but 12,892 children remained in hospital, a Chinese ministry official told AFP. More worms out of the can

In the central city of Da Nang, 60 cans of Ensure milk without Vietnamese usage-guidance labels have been discovered at seven stores, said Mac Nhu Chung, inspector deputy chief of the municipal health department.

Authorities have also confiscated around 17.5 kilograms of milk without labels or of dubious origin, Chung said.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the city market watchdog since last Monday has uncovered some four tons of milk whose origin were not proved. Inspectors also confiscated around two tons of cheese and milk flavoring without legitimate invoices.

HCMC authorities also said Monday they had quarantined 1,081 cartons of milk from Inner Mongolia’s YiLi Industrial Group, one of China’s three companies discovered with melamine in their milk products, pending destruction. Kim An Company in Phu Nhuan District had imported the milk consignment.

The HCMC health watchdog also asked Kim An to recall another 379 cartons of YiLi milk from the market, saying it would collect milk samples for melamine tests.

The Can Tho City police in the Mekong Delta said Monday they had unearthed around 3,600 cartons of milk of poor quality produced by Asian Food Company (AC Food) in HCMC’s District 12.

AC Food made headlines Monday as central and HCMC police said they had seized thousands of milk tins of the firm that were of low quality.

The products were widely sold in the central and southern regions, the police said. Tests by HCMC’s Institute of Hygiene and Public Health showed the actual nutritional ingredients in AC Food milk are not in accordance with what is stated in the packages.

The firm has also lied about its products’ origin and quality standards, the police said.

Ensuing investigations revealed Monday that AC Food had manufactured their products at a residential house covering an area of 80 square meters in District 12.

The production process was carried out with several rudimentary machines, the police said.

Reported by Thanh Nien staff

Source: Thanh Nien News

Vietnam widens milk inspection after melamine find

Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:51am EDT

HANOI, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Vietnam told its market and health inspectors nationwide to step up tests on milk after preliminary tests found the toxic industrial chemical melamine in imported dairy products.

Vietnam, a southern neighbour of China with 86.5 million people, has not found any child made ill by Chinese milk products, but health officials warned such products may have been sold in remote areas in the impoverished central region.

The Health Ministry sent an urgent notice to provincial health authorities around the country on Monday night, urging them to withdraw milk without proper labelling or of unclear origin and to take samples for melamine testing, the Ho Chi Minh City Laws newspaper said.

The alert was issued after inspectors in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city, seized more than 16,700 litres of milk produced by the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group (600887.SS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said the newspaper, run by Ho Chi Minh City Justice Department.

An executive at the Vietnamese company that imports Yili milk was quoted as saying that preliminary tests of the seized products found low levels of melamine, which can cause kidney stones and other complications if ingested.

The Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group is among 22 Chinese companies listed by Chinese authorities as having melamine-contained milk products. The list was published widely by Vietnam’s state-run media on Tuesday.

China has promised to stop toxic milk from reaching processors and export markets after an infant powder scandal that has made more than 50,000 children sick and again tarnished the country’s trade reputation. [ID:nSP247794]. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Valerie Lee)

Source: Reuters

Vietnam, Cambodia brace for Mekong floods, crops safe

HANOI, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Rising Mekong floods upstream may cause landslides and deep inundation in Cambodia and southern Vietnam but the seasonal floodwater would also bring farmers good crops of rice and fish, officials said on Tuesday.

The Vietnamese government said rescue forces must be ready to move people from dangerous areas in southern Vietnam, where the Mekong river reaches the South China Sea after travelling more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) from Tibet through Laos and Cambodia.

Four people have been killed in flooding and landslides in Laos, where the Mekong river has hit its highest level in at least 100 years after several months of unusually heavy rain (For a related story, please double click on [IDnSP192460]).

Cambodia has alerted villagers of rising waters and the authorities have prepared 4,000 boats and life-jackets for the vulnerable areas in the eastern provinces of Kampong Cham and Kratie, the national disaster management committee said.

The Mekong River Commission said the river from northern Thailand to central Cambodia was higher than it was in 2000, when the worst floods in four decades struck southern Vietnam.

“Floods in the Cuu Long River Delta happen every year, so people are used to taking preventive measures for crops and life,” Le Van Banh, director of the Mekong Delta-based Rice Institute, told Reuters by telephone from Can Tho city.

“In the past floods caused problem to transportation and it was hard for children to come to school, but in recent years Vietnam has built protective dykes and residential areas above the flood-peaking level,” he said.


About 20 percent of Vietnam’s 86.5 million people live in the Cuu Long River Delta, the Vietnamese name for the Mekong river, which produces more than half of the country’s paddy output but supplies more than 90 percent of its commercial rice.

Rice growers say they will get extra income from fishing when flooding is high and after they end the summer rice harvest. Flood waters also clean up alum, pests and rats from fields while bringing more fertile soil.

“Since the floods are to wash away alum, we expect the yield of the next winter-spring rice crop to be good, at least on par with this year,” Banh said.

The winter-spring crop, the Delta’s top yielding, produced 10 million tonnes of paddy in April with a yield of 6.2 tonnes per hectare, prompting the government to raise Vietnam’s annual rice exports by 13 percent from earlier targets [nSP283104].


Seasonal floods appeared slowly in the Delta in July, a month earlier than usual. But this week flood waters are rising faster from heavy rains upstream two weeks ago, including the downpours that caused flash floods in northern Vietnam.

“Floods are forecast to rise above the average level in many years,” said Vo Thanh, a meteorologist in An Giang, one of the Mekong Delta’s main rice growing provinces.

Waters are expected to rise to 3.5 metres (12 feet) above sea level at Tan Chau gauging station on Friday, or 0.1 metre below the Alarm Level Two, which indicates inundation and danger of river bank and dyke erosion but towns are still protected.

In 2000, the Delta experienced the worst floods in four decades as waters rose to more than 5 metres, killing nearly 500 people, more than 300 of them children.

Since then the government has launched a campaign to protect life and property, having built 82,000 new homes, relocated 110,000 families or 80 percent of those living in dangerous areas, and opened swimming class for children and teachers.

However, about 30,000 families living near rivers are still facing risk of landslides, according to provincial figures. (Additional reporting by Ek Madra in PHNOM PENH; Editing by Paul Tait)

VIETNAM: Ban on street vendors threatens livelihoods

Photo: Martha Ann Overland/IRIN
A bicycle vendor carries dozens of baskets for sale through the streets of Hanoi

HANOI, 23 June 2008 (IRIN) – For the past decade, Nguyen Thi Lan has risen at 3am to boil up a pot of sticky rice. Before the sun comes up, she packs it into a bamboo basket, secures it to her bicycle and begins the long ride to Hanoi. In the city, she serves up scoops of rice sprinkled with dried pork, peanuts and sesame seeds and on a good day she will return home with $3.50.

Lan has no choice but to do this work ever since most of her family’s rice paddies were “reclaimed” by local officials, she says, and sold to developers. Far from grumbling about the long hours and meagre pay, Lan says the money has allowed her to send her children to school and ensure they do not go hungry.

But from 1 July, Lan will no longer be able to sell her packets of sticky rice in the city because street vendors will be banned from commercial streets. Lan says her family will starve.

“We will all go hungry,” Lan says. “We are poor people. We have no land. We are dependent upon the street.”

Mobile vendors have been an integral part of Hanoi’s street life for centuries. Women in conical straw hats, balancing twin baskets suspended from bamboo poles, are one of the city’s most enduring images.

Selling goods from bamboo baskets and bicycles also provides income to villagers with little education and few other means of support. According to the Asian Development Bank project, Making Markets Work Better for the Poor, an estimated 5,000 mobile vendors – mostly women – operate in the city centre. Like Lan, most are the family’s main breadwinners.

Photo: Martha Ann Overland/IRIN
These women will be banned from Hanoi’s streets as of 1 July 2008

Vendors also provide a service. In a country that has yet to develop a supermarket culture, mobile vendors provide city dwellers with everything from cheap fruit and vegetables to bras and live tropical fish.

To the People’s Committee of Hanoi, however, they are a menace. As the capital modernises, cars, motorbikes, rickshaws and street vendors all try to squeeze through the Old Quarter’s narrow lanes. With shop wares spilling on to the sidewalks and instant hairdressers and bike repairmen to dodge, walking down Hanoi’s congested streets is not for the faint-hearted.

The ban is designed to make the city more habitable, says an official from the Hanoi Trade Management Division, who asked not to be named. “It is to beautify the city,” he said, referring to Decision 02, which bans mobile vendors from 62 streets. “Hawkers are a major reason for traffic problems. We believe that once the ban is enforced it will help improve urban sanitation, food hygiene and ease congestion.”

On the run

Hanoi has no programmes to help mobile vendors find alternative employment. No NGO has taken up their case. These traders do not belong to a labour union. Because they are literally on the run all the time, they are notoriously difficult to organise.

“What will we live on?” asks Ng Thi Hoa, pausing nervously before setting down her baskets. If she stops too long, police can give her a Green Ticket, which varies from 20,000 (US$1.15) to 50,000 dong (US$2.90) depending on the infraction and is supposed to go to a street cleaning and waste removal fund.

Photo: Martha Ann Overland/IRIN
Vegetable sellers will no longer be allowed to ply Hanoi’s busiest streets beginning 1 July

Hoa sells bundles of incense sticks, earning about 7 US cents for every pack she sells. Out of the $2 or $3 she earns, she has to pay 70 cents for a place to sleep – a mattress on a floor in a room shared with other market women. Food and shelter take up half her earnings, the rest goes to her children in her village. “The entire family depends upon the sale of these ancestral offerings,” Hoa says.

But not everyone sees the ban as spelling the vendors’ demise. The status of Hanoi’s street hawkers is very murky, says Paule Moustier, a food marketing researcher with CIRAD, the French institute that studies agriculture in Asia. One regulation calls it illegal and another one taxes it with the Green Ticket.

“The new ban essentially recognises that they can carry out activities but in restricted areas,” says Moustier. By establishing that they are legitimate, it would be easier to organise street vendors and minimise harassment from officials, Moustier argues.

For now, Hoa’s plan is to outrun the police when the ban goes into effect, making working conditions even more desperate. But with all her family’s land gone and two children back home, a life on the run, she says, is better than starvation.


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