News / Asia

Celebrity Chef Highlights Lack of Safe Ingredients in Vietnam

FILE - Chef Bobby Chinn sips from a bowl of Laksa, a dish popular in Singapore hawker centres, while posing for a photo in Singapore.
FILE - Chef Bobby Chinn sips from a bowl of Laksa, a dish popular in Singapore hawker centres, while posing for a photo in Singapore.
Marianne Brown
Celebrity Chef Bobby Chinn is best known across Asia for his televised cooking shows, but in Vietnam, where he has two restaurants, he is raising awareness about food safety and sustainable fishing. 

At Bobby Chinn’s Hanoi restaurant, the popular chef, launched a so-called “responsible seafood menu” to a room packed with local reporters. The event encouraged the use of seafood products, in Chinn’s case tuna and clams, certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

Chinn prepared a dish using certified tuna caught using specially designed hooks which do not threaten endangered turtles. His menu also includes clams which have been farmed using environmentally friendly and sustainable methods.

The pre-dominant message was overfishing, but the event also highlighted a problem facing Vietnamese consumers often aired in the local media.

“What I’m experiencing as a chef of 18 years is I have no idea where any of the products are coming from. You can say the beef is from the U.S. and has a stamp on it but it might not be," he said. "Recently in Vietnam we discovered that 80 percent of the noodles were laced with toxic chemicals to keep them white. So it’s really time for a change.”

Vietnam is one of the world’s top seafood exporters, with exports of catfish accounting for 90 percent of the global market. While not all exported goods are labeled with information which includes whether that product is certified or not, industry experts recognize that labels with more information are more popular with consumers, said Ngo.

Tien Chuong, Aquaculture Coordinator at the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Vietnam office.

He said the general trend is for authorities to make production for export more sustainable while less attention is paid to domestic consumption.

Lack of information on food sourcing and ingredients is a big issue for Vietnamese consumers, many of whom worry about the overuse of pesticides in vegetables, and excessive use of antibiotics and formaldehyde in meat.
 
Last month some residents in Lao Cai province were hospitalized after eating dried fish, which was later found to contain high levels of histamines, local media reported.

Poisoning cases have been blamed on poor enforcement of hygiene standards but so far there is no certification process in place for consumers at home.

Chuong said certified products and high quality products in Vietnam are mainly sold for the export market.  But with a population of 90 million people, the country’s domestic market should not be ignored.

The lack of information available for consumers is also a big problem for chefs, Chinn said. “I only have a handful of suppliers and I keep my fingers crossed that they are going to provide me with what I ask them to provide me. But every restaurant, every hotel, every consumer has the exact same problem,” he noted.

Although many of the customers at his restaurants in Vietnam are foreigners, Chinn says he hopes his new menu will encourage consumers to be more demanding about where their food comes from.   He said chefs in Vietnam need to be better educated and start showing more concern about what they are serving their guests.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More