Rectums and penises back on menu in Vietnam but quality still an issue

HANOI - Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has given its approval to the importing of frozen "white organs" such as rectums, chicken crops and penises. The imports will be allowed from the beginning of next month after being banned in July 2010.

Three months later, the imports of animal heart, liver and kidney were allowed after World Trade Organisation members argued the ban violated the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, a set of basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards.

However, importing animal penises and other internal organs, also known as "white organs", was still forbidden.

Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has given its approval to the importing of frozen "white organs" such as rectums, chicken crops and penises.

The imports will be allowed from the beginning of next month after being banned in July 2010. Three months later, the imports of animal heart, liver and kidney were allowed after World Trade Organisation members argued the ban violated the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, a set of basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards.

However, importing animal penises and other internal organs, also known as "white organs", was still forbidden.

MARD's International Co-operation Department head Luong The Phiet said importing organs was put on hold because the government needed time to complete the law on controlling their quality, said

Nevertheless, the ministry's decision to import white organs has raised eyebrows.

"Why do we import white organs when people in other countries don't eat them?" Viet Nam Animal Feed Association chairman Le Ba Lich asked.

"Organs have a high risk of bacterial infection, so they're more likely to carry diseases, while food safety and hygiene management in Viet Nam is inefficient," Lich said

He said smuggling the products was easy and that no authority would be able to monitor the quality of frozen white organs being brought illegally across the border.

National Institute of Nutrition deputy director Nguyen Thi Lam said organs were very dangerous to the health of the elderly, gout patients and diabetics, among others, due to the high amounts of cholesterol they contained. Therefore it was not advisable to import them.

In response to public fears about food safety, the ministry stated that white organs were to be tested at the border before clearing customs. Non-eligible products would not be allowed to enter the country.

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