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Eating is one of the essential needs of human activity and that is the main power supply to learning, working and living more active, and each person in the world to eat different foods depending on the food culture where they live. Although each nations all have own culture, food culture is one of the most recognizable things, and Viet Nam also have its specialty. Vietnamese cuisine reflects Vietnamese lifestyle, encompasses the foods and beverages of Vietnam, and features a combination of five fundamental elements tastes. Dishes in VN is very diverse and varies from luxurious restaurants to the popular restaurants, especially the street food which is appreciated by people and tourists. However, whether these dishes can ensure food hygiene and food safety for the buyers?
- Food and its importance for humans.
“Food is any substance consumed that humans or animals may eat or drink, with the primary purpose is the uptake of nutrients to nourish the body or for hobbies, including mainly the qualities: powder (carbohydrates), fats (lipids), protein (protein), or water.”
Eating is one of the essential needs of human activity and that is the main power supply. Each day, we eat a lot of different foods at different meals. A standard meal should have carbohydrates (rice, bread, and cereals), protein (meat, fish, eggs, milk) and fibber (vegetable, beans) …The food was good spirits help, interesting life; also; have more motivation to work and create positive relationships with people. Healthy food will help prevent many diseases, enhances longevity. A good food, which is nutritious, inexpensive and full of nutrients that will help us have more spirit and energy to learning, working and living more active. Therefore, delicious and nutritious food plays a very important role in our lives.
“The meaning of food is a cultural discovery through food” (http://www.pbs.org/opb/meaningoffood/ ). In addition to play an important role in human life, food also contributes to participate in the different cultures in countries around the world, so what is the VN food culture and does it reflect people in VN? Let’s find out in the following paragraphs.
Vietnamese food culture
Culture of Vietnamese cuisine is known for its characteristics such as sociability, diversity, low in fat; flavour with a combination of many types of reducers to improve the taste, attractive in the dish. Eating a tray and use chopsticks and special meal of rice is indispensable common practices of the people of Vietnam. Beside, cuisine also show spirit culture of Vietnamese. Culture in the spirit of the Vietnamese cuisine is an expression of beauty in cultural communication, the behaviour between people of the meal, to please each other through gentlemanly behaviour, education. The food has its own rules and practices, from self to family, relationships and society.
Vietnamese cuisine encompasses the foods and beverage of Vietnam, and features a combination of five fundamental taste elements in the overall meal. Each Vietnamese dishes has a distinctive flavour which reflects one or more of these elements. Common ingredients include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, rice, fresh herbs, and fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. “With the balance between fresh herbs, meats, and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide, which is a prime reason for why it is quickly becoming popular in a more health-conscious society. The diaspora of whole communities, coupled with the forces of globalization and capitalism, have also helped to propel Vietnamese cuisine to the forefront of the culinary world.” (Thomas, 2004)
“Because Vietnam is a typical wet rice country, rice is strongly worshipped here. Visitors to Vietnam will surely maze with the number of dishes made from rice: steamed rice in daily meals, glutinous rice cake, rice noodle, rice vermin celli, steamed rice pancakes and many other ones. A common fish sauce bowl is also a very interesting image that can be seen in almost every meal of Vietnam people, representing Vietnamese solidarity. Two above are just some of many fascinating features of Vietnam food culture. It can be sure that discovering Vietnam food culture lets guests know much about people in this small beautiful country.”
The food safety
Food safety is simply understood as a science used to describe the handling, processing, preservation and storage of food by the method of prevention, disease prevention caused by food. Food safety also includes a number of routines, the processing operation should be done to avoid potential health risks seriously. Broad sense, hygiene and food safety are all issues that need processing involves ensuring food hygiene to ensure the health of consumers. This is a problem and a huge risk that the developing countries have been facing as Vietnam, China…
In developed countries, there are many complex standards and stricter for the processing, storage and consumption of food, while in the developing countries and least developed this standard is too low and the management issues of food safety and hygiene proved too loose, weak and society of those country daily face the risk of food poisoning, death every day for hours.
The current state of food in VN
In the past, Vietnam cuisine is famous for the traditional and typical dishes of the Vietnamese. Besides, the dishes of Vietnam is also considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. However, in recent years, gradually do street food become characteristic of Vietnamese culture. Vietnamese street food may be renowned for being tasty, but what is the truth behind these dishes? Does it still remain one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide? It is the truth that people only look at the outside and the taste of it but they do not pay any attention to problem that if it has caused harm to them or not. Indeed, there are some or the majority of street food in Vietnam do not ensure the safety of food or fraud in cooking. “Foods in Vietnam are not always safe as they look, especially in street small shops and vendors load. Since the price of materials rose up in recent years, many shops must reduce cost to maintain their profit. This leads to the decrease of safety rate in street foods”. (http://www.vietnamonline.com/az/food-safety-in-vietnam.html)
Besides not keeping the food clean, there are a few other reasons to make food unsafe for eaters:
- The origin of food.
Vietnamese street food may be renowned for being tasty, but authorities have been unable to curb the unhygienic practices of vendors. People often use the non-originating materials because of their low price and guarantee high profits in the trade despite the harm it gives for others. Most of the materials is not clean or not safe is often originated from China, because everyone have already known about its harmful so sellers often hide information about the place of origin on imported goods. The concern is food accounts for most of the imported goods, foods can be faked by the harmful ingredients like rice made from plastic, squid made from rubber, dumpling made from cardboard, fake eggs etc.
“A report released by the American Chemical Society reveals that rice imported into the United States from China and other countries contains very high levels of lead.”
- Using too much chemical.
In these days, the chemical industries is highly developed, but it was accompanied by the abuse of a part of inhabitants that lack of consciousness. The most obvious thing is that farmers use pesticides exceeded the permitted level, the next is the injection of chemicals into the fruits. All for the purpose of increasing productivity and lead to increased profits for farmers, now it’s hard to find a vegetable or fruit without pesticides or chemicals.
“Pesticides present real health risks, particularly to children and those with health concerns. The toxicity most commonly associated with pesticides in animal studies include disruptions in the normal functioning of the nervous and endocrine system, and increased risks of cancer.” (http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ALB00035/The-Dirty-Dozen-Foods-You-Should-Always-Buy-Organic.html )
Food additives, processing aids, food materials are tested in 2008 was 27,587,658 kg / 298 lots. The management of food safety for additives, processing aids, preservative substance is still inadequate: legal documents (legal normative) in particular is still lacking; less frequent in inspection, testing, handling violations; facilities, equipment inspection are limited. The purchase, use of additives, preservatives, enhancers processing food with unknown origin, out of the permitted list are commonly used in the production base of small business, handcrafted manufacturing variety of food additives does not guarantee the quality of food safety is still circulating in the market.
Besides pesticides and chemicals, the use of color and borax in cooking also cause unforeseen complications. The colorful dishes will get more attention and attraction to customers, because of this reason, sellers often use many ways to make their food more colorful such as using colourings. The colourings is divided into two main categories: synthetic colourings and natural colourings. Many people, especially in food processing establishments enjoy using chemical dyes because they often bring beautiful color to the dish, not flying colors during processing and make food haves eye-catching, attractive, do not easily broken. The foods contain artificial colors in the allowed list are able to use as a food additive by the Ministry of Health, below the permitted amount will cause no negative health effect. However, if you abuse the color, or pursue profits, the use of color outside the allowed list for processing food (especially synthetic dyes) will be very harmful, can cause poisoning acute, long-term accumulation can lead to cancer, such as the red chili sauce and melon seeds and so on. Moreover, some foods like rice noodle, pickles, grilled chopped meat are usually mixed with Foocmon and borax in order to preserve better and maintain the crispy, chewy. When people eat foods that have these chemicals, there will be some signs of illness such as digestive disorder, causing malnutrition and mental retardation in children, damage to liver cells, testicular atrophy, and become one of the cancer-causing agents.
- The places producing food do not clean and ensure the food safety.
The proportion of food service establishments, street food that is certified qualified food safety is still low (accounting for 16.5%), while the average rate in 2008 was granted a certificate of eligibility for food safety of the whole country for street foods is low (6.1%). Meanwhile, the hotel, the restaurant has investments in facilities, equipment, processing tools should meet the basic requirements to ensure food safety. However, the use of unknown food additives or do not in the list of permitted uses for processing foods is still undetected.
The intervention from government:
- Information, education and communication about food safety.
- Enhancing competence of state management system for food safety.
- Enhancing monitoring, inspection, testing and handling law violations of food safety.
- Enhancing capacity testing system for food safety.
- Enhancing capacity of the system to prevent food poisoning and foodborne diseases.
- Socialization work of ensuring food safety.
- Enhancing expense for the work of ensuring food safety.
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