Traditionally in Vietnamese culture, the word “LAN” translates to orchid – a beautiful flower that has symbolized thoughtfulness, refinement, and love. This International Women’s Day, the Safe Food for Growth Project (SAFEGRO), celebrates three women named LAN. These women have embodied their namesake through detailed, organized and dedicated work ensuring food safety that has resulted in the safeguarding of consumers and the people they serve.

Dao Phuong LAN: Prioritizing Food Safety in Preschools
At Van Duc preschool, Vice Dean Dao Phuong LAN has cared for children with such love and compassion that many former students still visit her. Throughout her career, she has been concerned with food safety. Vice Dean Dao Phuong LAN worried about the lack of traceability of ingredients like pork and vegetables – which could mean that they’re not safe for children. She has also been concerned that teachers and kitchen staff may not always follow safety rules, furthering the risk to her small students and creating a threat to the preschooler’s health. In her management role at the preschool, Phuong LAN felt a strong responsibility to address these issues to ensure every child received safe and nutritious meals, and they has also prioritized reinforcing proper food safety behaviors in the children.

Dao Phuong LAN, Vice Dean of Van Duc preschool, is speaking at the signing ceremony in Hanoi to support selected vegetable and pork value chains. The ceremony is organized by the Safe Food for Grow project (SAFEGRO) and MARD.

During a recent SAEFGRO food safety event in Hanoi, Phuong LAN emphasized the critical need to ensure food safety for preschools, upholding the highest standards from the source of the ingredients to the moment that they reach the children’s tables. She also stressed the vital role parents play in this commitment, urging their active involvement in ensuring the safety of the food served to their little ones.

Pham Khanh Phong LAN: Ensuring the food safety of the busiest city in Vietnam
At the municipal level, there is another Orchid working in the food safety industry: Dr. Pham Khanh Phong LAN, the Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Food Safety. With a population exceeding 10 million people, Ho Chi Minh City has relied primarily on external sources for its food supply – which has caused food safety concern for both the government and citizens.

Dr. Pham Khanh Phong LAN (second from the right) took a commemorative photo with the SAFEGRO Project Director during the conference announcing the establishment of the Ho Chi Minh city Department of Food Safety. This is the first Department of Food Safety in the country

Dr. Pham Khanh Phong LAN has led her department to work very hard to ensure the food safety of Ho Chi Minh City during Tet – the Lunar New Year of 2024.

LAN responded to the interview with Việt Nam News ahead of the event.

“We will concentrate on inspections at distribution points like wholesale markets and traditional markets. Alongside inspection work, “ said LAN. “We will conduct communication campaigns to raise awareness of producers, businesses, and consumers on food poisoning prevention”.

Since assuming her position, the Tet (from February 9 to 15, as known as from the 30th to the 5th in lunar calendar), which usually sees many cases of foodborne diseases, recorded no cases in Ho Chi Minh City.

Dao Hong LAN: Ensuring national security and food safety
At the national level, there is one more prominent Orchid, affecting national policies related to food safety, Minister of Health Dao Hong LAN.

As the Minister of Health, she has been instrumental in affecting all policy related to food safety. Minister LAN has also overseen the implementation plans for the Action Month for Food Safety. In 2023, the focus was on “Ensuring security and food safety in the new situation” through awareness campaigns and clear responsibilities for party committees and organizations at all levels.

Minister Dao Hong LAN of the Ministry of Health speaking at the National Assembly Meeting

During the “Action Month,” authorities intensified inspections and supervision to ensure food security and safety, cracked down on violators, and enhanced government, management agencies, and consumer roles in upholding food safety laws.

Dao Hong LAN is now preparing to oversee awareness campaigns and establish clear responsibilities for party committees and organizations at all levels during the ‘Action Month for Food Safety 2024’, scheduled for April and May this year. Additionally, she will lead important revisions to update food safety policies, including amendments to the Food Safety Law.

In Vietnam, women have played a pivotal role in various areas of food safety from production through distribution, and regulation enforcement. They have taken the lead in a variety of tasks like food inspection and quality control – which have ensured high standards are maintained.

About the SAFEGRO Project: Funded by Global Affairs Canada, SAFEGRO assists Van Duc commune in building a gender responsive food safety community where people recognize women role in food safety practices. Farmers are trained to produce safe food, while preschool teachers and kitchen staff receive training in food safety practices, including handwashing and proper food storage. The team also works on creating a food safety curriculum for kids and involves parents in practicing food safety at home. The good practices from Van Duc preschool have been shared with 25 preschools in Thanh Oai district and will soon be shared with 27 preschools in Gia Lam district. Sound food safety interventions are also implemented at city and national levels.

Minister Dao Hong LAN took commemorative photos with the SAFEGRO team, Brian Bedard, Alinea Director of Food Safety and Animal Health, and Do Thanh Lam, SAFEGRO Project Director, on the occasion of the 50th-anniversary celebratory event Canada – Vietnam in Hanoi.