SECTION VI: OTHER REGULATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
(Product Registration, Testing, Certification, Special Documentation or Conformity Assessment Requirements)
Government Circular No.79/2008/ND-CP dated July 18, 2008 regulating the Government system of management, monitoring and testing on food safety and hygiene.
This latest government circular on food safety and hygiene describes specific functions of government agencies directly involved in controlling, monitoring and testing food safety and hygiene.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) is responsible for the safety and hygiene of processed foods.
Ministry of Agricultural an Rural Development (MARD) is responsible for the safety and hygiene of agricultural, forest and fishery/marine products including imported animals, animal products, plants, plants products as well as ingredients and additives used production and processing in the agricultural and fishery sectors.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) is responsible for setting national standards (Vietnamese standards -TCVN) on food safety and hygiene. MOST also provides technical standard regulations to other agencies to enable them to establish specific sector standards on specific products. MOST is also appointed to be one of the state testing agencies on food safety and hygiene.
1. Regulations can be sometimes published and amended without notifying the industry or international bodies. Therefore exporters must work closely with importers to ensure that all requirements are met before shipping.
2. The Food Regulations are too comprehensive to provide meaningful summarization in this report. It is advised that the exporter consult the relevant sections of the Food Regulations for information about his own specific food product or products. As the Food Regulations are regularly reviewed and updated, it is recommended that interested parties contact the Vietnam Controlled Authorities and Post for further clarification (see contact address listed at the back pages of this report).
All food products imported into Vietnam should meet the following additional requirements:
1. Processed Food Standards Registration:
Ref: The Ministry of Health’s Decision No.42/2005/QDBYT dated December 08, 2005 promulgating the regulation on announcing standards of foods.
Imported foodstuffs (as well as locally produced foodstuffs) must obtain a Food Standards Registration Certificate (RC) issued by Vietnam Food Administration (VFA) under Ministry of Health (MOH). Below is the VFA contact details:
Vietnam Food Administration
Registration and Certification Division
135 Nui Truc – Hanoi
Tel: 844-846 4498 ext.2050
Fax: 844- 846 4739
Contact: Mr Nguyen Van Dung
Head of the Division
RC for imported foodstuff is issued by VFA to trader/importer of the foods upon receipt of his announcement of the food quality, safety and hygiene standards in compliance with binding provisions of Vietnamese law.
RC for imported foodstuff is valid for three (03) years.
Note: This registration requirement is not applied to meat (fresh, chilled and frozen) and non-traded foods (for personal use, gifts, Diplomatic and International Organizations, samples at fairs, trial studies).
Below are the details on the registration requirement:
1.a. For Processed Food Products :
Important documents required to present to the VFA/Division of Food Registration are as follows:
– Certificate of Analysis (CA): Product Specifications of the manufacturer or a Certificate of Analysis (CA) relating to principal quality and safety standards of the food issued the manufacturer or an independent testing agency of the country of origin. In case the CA is not available, a CA issued by competent testing agencies in Vietnam is accepted.
– Product label: Product label (or its photos) and draft contents of the Vietnamese label (with the trader company’s stamp); labeled samples (if requested for testing).
– Notarized copy of one of the following certificates (if any): Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP); Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP); or an equivalent certificate.
For radiation-treated food, GM food (or food with ingredients containing genetically modified or radiation-treated materials), besides the above required documents, certificates of bio-safety and certificates of irradiated safety issued by competent state agencies of the country of origin certifying that the GM foods and irradiated foods are safe for human health and the environment are requested and also explanation of production charts of the products are required.
1.b. For Food Additives:
In addition to above mentioned documents in 1.a., a Certificate of Free Sale (or Health Certificate) granted by the competent authority of the country of origin for such food additive is required.
CODEX standards is applied in case there is no Vietnamese reference.
1.c. For Special Foods (special foods mean a common term for a group of products of special natures or intended for use by special consumers, with a special usage or special effects on health. Special foods include nutritious products for infants; nutritious foods to be taken through catheters, genetically modified foods, radiation-treated foods, functional foods).
Besides the above required documents in 1.a, specific documents are required for specific products, including:
– For nutritious food products for infants: Certificate of Free Sale (or Health Certificate) granted by a competent state agency of the country of origin, certifying that such product is suitable for use in a certain age group and in certain targeted children.
– For medically nutritious food products: additional required document is Result of Clinical Tests/Health Claims on application of such food for medical purpose.
-For nutritious foods to be taken through catheters: additional document is Result of Clinical Tests/Health Claims on taking such food through catheters.
-For functional foods: additional document is Result of Clinical Tests/Health Claims (or reference documents) on application of such food to safely improve health of targetted users.
2) Entry Point Inspection and Testing :
2.1. For foods (other than unprocessed food originated from animal, plants and marine):
– Decision 818/QDBYT of the Ministry of Health dated 5/3/2007 on the list of harmonized-system-coded goods subject to compulsory State control examination on food safety.
– Decision 23/2007/BYT of the Ministry of Health dated 29/3/2007 regarding State testing examination to ensure quality, hygiene and safety of imported foods.
As requested by VFA, MOH (Decision 818/QDBYT of MOH) has listed the following food products from 12 food groups which are subject to compulsory State examination on food quality and safety:
– Preparations of Meat, of Fish (Chapter 15)
– Animal or Vegetable Fats and Oils (chapter 16)
– Dairy products (Chapter 04)
– Sugar and Sugar Confectionary (Chapter 17)
– Cacoa and Coca Preparations (Chapter 18)
– Preparations of Cereals, Flour, Starch or Milk, Pastrycooks products (Chapter 19)
– Coffee, Tea, Spices (Chapter 09)
– Preparations of Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts (Chapter 20)
– Miscellaneous Edible Preparations (Condiments – Chapter 21)
– Fruit Juices, Beverages, Spirits and Vinegar (Chapter 20 and 22)
– Functioning foods, Medical Foods (HS 1517.90; HS2106.90.92; 2106.90.95; 2106.90.99; 2202.10.10; 2202.10.90; 2205.10)
– Food Additives (20 food additive groups i.e. Acididity Regulators, Flavor Enhancers, Stabilizers, Preservatives, Anticaking and Antifoaming Agents, Emulisifiers, Antioxidants, Firming Agents, Colors, Artificial Sweeteners etc.)
Food quality and safety control examinations for goods using Harmonized System code (HS) are based on Vietnamese Standards (TCVN) and Technical Standards. In case there is no Vietnamese reference, CODEX standards is applied.
Below are State Control/Testing Agencies (SCA), associated with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) who have been appointed to verify imported foods in compliance with food quality and safety regulations:
Northern Region National Nutrition Institute (MOH)
Technical Center Number 1 (MOST)
Central Region Nha Trang Pasteur Institute (MOH)
Technical Center Number 2 (MOST)
Highlands Region Epidemiological and Hygiene Institute (MOH)
Southern Region Public Health and Hygiene Institute (MOH)
Technical Center Number 3 (MOST)
In Central region, for Danang, MOH has just appointed Danang Preserved Health Center to be the 3rd SCA (Decision 19/2007/QDBYT of MOH dated 8/3/2007).
In Southern Region, for Ho Chi Minh City, MOH has just appointed Vinacontrol as the third SCA for imported foods (Decision 22/2007/QDBYT of MOH dated 20/3/2007).
According to the Decision 23/2007/BYT of MOH, with a view to ensuring conformity to import quality standards, imported foods must be quality-tested by STAs. Testing criteria include product appearance and label, analysis of major chemicals, physicals and micro-biological, nutrition value, food additives. Without a Certificate from STAs certifying that imported foods are met with Vietnam quality and safety requirements, the foods can not be circulated in Vietnam.
Necessary documents to submit to STA include:
– Trade contract or L/C
– Bill of lading
– Packing list
– Certificate of Origin
– Result of Tests, CA (if any)
There are four application levels of quality testing:
– Strict testing: applied on high-risk foods and on foods that have got historical testing records of quality inconformity.
– Normal testing:
– Reduced testing: applied on foods from the same source having RC; GMP/HACCP certificate, and historical testing record of two-time approvals.
– Testing Exemption: applied on foods from the same source having historical testing records of 5-time approvals
For reduced and exempted testing, importers/traders must acquire acceptance letters from MOH.
In some specific situations, certificates of quality inspection by other countries or international agencies can be recognised as long as those organisations (countries and international agencies) are long-standing partners of Vietnam, within a economic-cooperating region which includes Vietnam or also signed an international Convention. Post will update the regulation on a separate report.
2.2 For imports of animals and animal products; plants and plant products and fishery products:
Quaratine import permits (QIP) issued by competen quarantine agencies under MARD are requested for imports of animals and animal products; plants and plant products; and fishery products. After obtaining the QIP, the imported products must be inspected for quarantine and hygiene standards by competent quarantine agencies. Quarantine Certificates (QC) are requested for Customs clearance.
For meat products, Department of Animal Health is the State Controlled Agency (SCA) to issue the QIP and QC.
For plants and plant products including vegetable and fruits, Plant Protection Department is the SCA to issue the QIP and QC.
For fishery products, the National Fishery Quality and Veterinary Directorate (NAFICAVED) under MARD is the SCA to issue the QIP and QC.
At the wholesale/retail distributionlevels, there are many City and Provincial Government agencies involving in monitoring quality and safety of food products including Sub-department of Animal Health; Department of Health / Health Centers of City/Provincial levels, market control forces under Department of Trade of City/Provincial.
3. Import Control Under the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ)
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Decision No. 014/2007/QD-BCT dated December 28, 2007, Vietnam currently has set tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for tobacco, eggs, salt and sugar imports. No TRQ in Vietnam is a significant trade policy issue.
4. Sample and mail order shipment policy
– Circular No 06 by General Department of Post and Telecommunication in coordination with General Department of Customs dated 11th December 1998 on “Customs Procedures of packages, parcels, import/export goods sent by mail or express service”.
– Government Degree 154/2005/ND-CP dated December 15, 2005 providing detailed guidance on customs procedures under the Custom Law.
The above mentioned documents are the latest regulations in place regulating shipments of product samples via express mail and parcel post. According to these, all the products shipped via express mail or parcel post are subject to relevant import regulations. Product samples and free samples must follow the same regulations as commercially imported items. Those products must not belong to the annual “List of goods forbidden from import/exportation” of Vietnam, the “List of goods forbidden from importation” of the receiver’s country as well as all international conventions on sending prohibition that Vietnam has signed.
Also within Point 2/Part I of the Circular, product sample importers are forced to carry out the following procedures:
– Customs procedures; test and supervision from customs offices;
– Pay taxes and fees;
– Fully perform all the valid regulations of other authorised bodies under law.
When there is any dispute over this matter, Part IV of the Circular can be used as reference. This part also defines that product samples without receivers will be returned to the export country and all the procedures concerning this are clearly regulated in the Inter-ministerial Circular No 227 by the Ministry of Finance and General Department of Post and Telecommunication dated 31st August 1992.
5. Specific import documentations and certificate requirements:
5.a Imports of alcoholic beverages:
Ref. Government Degree No.40/2008/ND-CP dated April 07, 2008 on alcoholic beverage production and trading.
According to the degree, alcoholic beverage belongs to the group of goods subject to restricted trading under the state’s regulation. Organizations and individuals engage in alcoholic beverage trading must have relevant permits.
Only business companies obtaining permits on either alcoholic drink production or alcoholic drink wholesale are eligible to import alcoholic drinks into Vietnam.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry is responsible for granting the permits
Conditions for a company to be granted a whosale permit on alcoholic drinks by the Ministry of Trade and Industry:
– The company must have a business registration license on alcoholic drinks.
– The company must have its own distrubtion network, proper storage and facility.
Imports of alcoholic drinks are subject to relevant imports regulations including RC; labeling and food safety and hygiene requirements.
Imported alcoholic drinks must be stick with specific import stamps on their packages under the Ministry of Finance’s regulation.
5.b Imports of seeds and fresh fruits subject to pest risk analysis (PRA):
Ref. MARD’s Decision No.48/2007/QD-BNN dated May 29, 2007 regulating procedures of quarantine import permits for plants and plant products subject to pest risk analysis.
According to the Decision, A pest risk assessment (PRA) for seeds and fresh fruits (by type and country of origin) must be completed for fruits that have never been imported to Vietnam before Quaratine Import Permits (QIP) will be issued.
The Plant Protection Department (PPD) is responsible for evaluating PRAs and granting QIPs.
For imports of fresh fruits from USA, PPD has approved continued imports of apples, table grapes, cherry and pears as their import into Vietnam was well established before the Decision. . Imports of other new fruits need a PRA.
– The Government of Vietnam recently promulgated several Ordinances on agricultural related areas including the Ordinance on Plant Varieties, the Ordinance on Animal Breeds and the Ordinance on Veterinary Medicine.
– Important certifications required for imports of agricultural (plants and animals); fishery and food products into Vietnam.