The Ministry of Health will issue an official document July 28 in regards to the recent Belgian findings that Vietnam-made Chinsu soya sauce contained high levels of a known carcinogen, said its chief inspector.
Following the Belgian food agency’s warning against Chinsu soya sauce, the ministry has conducted 10 random tests of Chinsu products to check the level of the recognised carcinogen 3-MCPD.
All test results show that the levels of 3-MCPD in Chinsu range between 0.65 and 0.98 mg/kilogram. Vietnam currently allows a maximum level of 1 mg/kilogram, said ministry insiders.
But, the Belgian Federal Agency for Food Chain Security had previously warned local consumers against Chinsu as its results found that some Chinsu products contained 86 mg/kilogram of 3-MCPD over 1,500 times the EU’s allowable level of 0.05 mg/kilogram.
According to some ministry officials, Chinsu-maker Vitec Food Co had publicised the quantity of Chinsu soya sauce and level of 3-MCPD in line with the ministry’s regulations.
The scandal has left many producers confused as to what their options are to avoid having the carcinogen in their products. Carcinogen 3-MCPD is produced during the hydrolysis process of soya sauces.
“More than 90% of 35 soya sauce producers have applied the process. Surely, their products all contain 3-MCPD. But, the concern is how much,” said Truong Lan Anh, vice chairwoman of the HCM City Sauce Producer Club.
Le Truong Giang, deputy director of the HCM City Health Department, said: “Producers would have to apply a completely new process if their products are to contain no toxins.”
However, there are so far no new processes to replace hydrolysis. If producers are banned from using the process, the soya sauce market would come to a halt, Giang said.
In reality, local agencies have found unacceptably high levels of 3-MCPD in many soya sauce brands before the Chinsu case, according to a Thanh Nien investigation. Although the test results were “shocking,” these agencies still did not announce the findings or take actions to deal with the situation, said Thanh Nien.
According to another health department official, only a few sauce makers in the city have abided by the rules of publicising the level of 3-MCPD.
“It is hard to force all violators to stop production. Furthermore, we are afraid that many of them will start producing sauces illegally and selling them to poor consumers,” said Giang.