Vietnamese are well known for their taste for offal, and the country is now struggling to deal with illegally trafficked offal coming via its northern border gates.
Authorities inspecting seized offal
Smugglers often use several tricks to traffic such substandard goods for domestic consumption.
It’s common to see motorbikes carrying illegally imported offal along National Highway No. 1A, with most of the products sourced from China. Goods are gathered in big cities in the region before being distributed to localities nationwide.
Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Nong Van Nguyen, from the northern province of Lang Son’s police, said, “In order to effectively deal with illegal offal smuggling, we have applied different measures, including busting their storage areas and those trafficking illegally imported offal from China.”
According to Nguyen, the offal smugglers are a menace to public safety as they will often engage in high speed chases to avoid police.
Lang Son police have dealt with over 20 cases of illegally trafficked substandard offal since the beginning of this month. They have seized around 14.5 tonnes of such products, mainly pork products.
The most prominent case involved Trinh Xuan Phai who owned illegal storage areas in Lang Son City’s Vinh Trai Ward on April 4. The investigative agency seized 665 kilos of pork offal.
Most of wholesalers buy goods at border gates and then hire people to transport them to targeted locations for further distribution. Those who are hired for the transportation must pay a certain amount of money as deposit and take it back along with wages after completing their tasks.
Smugglers’ guards use mobile devices to inform them about authorities’ oversight. When being detected, they often run away, leaving their goods, which hinders authorities’ efforts to track for the goods’ owners.
These traders often use toxic substances to make rotten offal look fresh or to bleach these goods.
Health experts have warned that most of the low-cost bleaches used in these circumstances are industrial chemicals that are banned from being used in food production and processing.
Food contaminated with such substances many result in dizziness, vomiting and diarrhoea. In some cases, they could foster cancer.
Unverified offal poses great health concerns
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