Over the years the Vietnamese Government has worked closely with the Swai Industry to ensure the safety of the products they export.  Food pellets for Swai farming need to meet requirements on quality and veterinary hygiene. The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD) is responsible for the overseeing and inspecting conditions at feed mills and of quality of feeds.

Strict procedures have been used during the aquaculture process to ensure that harvested Swai are completely free of antibiotics and other residues.  Banned antibiotics are periodically tested.

  1. The use of chemicals and antibiotics in aquaculture is required to be recorded and must be in compliance with current regulations and standards.
  2. The competent authority in charge of food safety carries out regular control and inspections, including the use of chemicals and antibiotics in aquaculture.
  3. The third party undertakes regular control and inspections to ensure the compliance with current regulations.
  4. Before harvesting, the processing establishment will come to the farm to test  each pond for antibiotics. Barring any negative testing result, fish can be harvested and supplied to processing plants.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), 100 percent of their companies farm in ponds away from the Mekong River, not in the Mekong River itself. “We are producing food; for that reason, our companies are committed to good farming and manufacturing practices.”

This means that it is their practice as an industry to monitor water quality on an ongoing, regular basis, both the incoming water and the effluent. In addition, because the river is a national treasure, the Mekong River Commission has taken strong measures to protect the resource.

Can Tho University and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership have conducted independent research and produced a substantial report called “Water Quality Monitoring in Striped Pangasius [Swai] Farms in the Mekong River Delta.” In this research, they measured different physical and chemical parameters of river water, pond water and outlet water. They have concluded that the water used in production systems — at inlets, culture ponds, and outlets — measures as being within acceptable ranges of national and international standards for aquaculture.

The Vietnamese seafood industry is working hard to improve not only its image abroad but also its practices. The leading companies that export to both the EU and U.S. markets meet or exceed many of the rigorous global standards — GlobalGAP for the farms and SQF 1000, USDC and BRC for processing plants. In addition, several leading exporters are now undergoing or preparing to undergo Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) audits for eventual certification.

As the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership just announced, there is no food-safety issue with pangasius from Vietnam. The issue is really a “red herring.”  Critics say negative remarks on food safety from organizations such as the Catfish Farmers of America is really a matter of international trade politics and protectionism, not food safety.

Sources:
“Pangasius 26 Q&A” – The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers
“VASEP: Pangasius is 100 percent safe” – http://www.seafoodsource.com