Misleading media reports have been blamed for poor export sales at Vietnam Food Industries Co.

According to local press reports, several small enterprises engaged in the manufacture of rice vermicelli (pho) have not been meeting hygiene requirements and hence their produce is infected with formaldehyde, borax and poisonous colouring.

But when foreign newspapers sourced the story from these reports, however, they failed to make the distinction between small enterprises and Vietnam Food, says Ben. They accused all processors in Vietnam of failing to meet hygiene requirements.

In the first ten months of 2000, export sales for Vietnam Food to the US and Western Europe plummeted by 80%.