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Exposure assessment of chemical hazards in pork meat, liver, and kidney, and health impact implication in Hung Yen and Nghe An provinces, Vietnam



This study assesses the risk of exposure to hazardous chemical residues in pork meat, liver, and kidney collected at wet markets in Nghe An and Hung Yen provinces and discusses health impact implication.


514 pig feed, kidney, liver, and pork samples were pooled and qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed for tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, sulphonamide, chloramphenicol, β-agonists, and heavy metals. We compare the results with current regulations on chemical residues and discuss health implications.


Legal antibiotics were found in feed. Tetracycline and fluoroquinolones were not present in pork, but 11% samples were positive with sulfamethazine above maximum residue limits (MRL); 11% of packaged feed and 4% of pork pooled samples were positive for chloramphenicol, a banned substance; two feed, two liver, and one pork samples were positive for β-agonists but did not exceed current MRL; 28% of pooled samples had lead, but all were below MRL; and all samples were negative for cadmium and arsenic. Thus, the health risks due to chemical hazards in pork in Hung Yen and Nghe An seemed not as serious as what were recently communicated to the public on the mass media.


There is potential exposure to sulphonamide, chloramphenicol, and β-agonists from pork. Risk communication needs to focus on banned chemicals, while informing the public about the minimal risks associated with heavy metals.

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This study was a component of an ongoing PigRISK project (Reducing disease risks and improving food safety in smallholder pig value chains in Vietnam) (2012–2017), which assessed the health risks of chemical hazards in pork and developed incentive-based innovations to improve management of human and animal health risks in smallholder pig value chains in Vietnam. The study was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the CGIAR Research Program Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). We would like to express our sincerely thanks to Associate Prof. Hoang Van Minh at Hanoi University of Public Health for his support in submitting this manuscript to the special supplement “Health and social determinants of health in Vietnam: local evidence and international implications”. Special thanks also go to Editors and reviewers for valuable comments on the draft manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tran Thi Tuyet-Hanh.

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The study was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the CGIAR Research Program Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) led by IFPRI.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Ethical clearance and approval was obtained from the Hanoi University of Public Health’s Institutional Review Board (Number 148/2012/YTCC-HD3).

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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This article is part of the supplement “Health and social determinants of health in Vietnam: local evidence and international implications.”

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Tuyet-Hanh, T.T., Sinh, D.X., Phuc, P.D. et al. Exposure assessment of chemical hazards in pork meat, liver, and kidney, and health impact implication in Hung Yen and Nghe An provinces, Vietnam. Int J Public Health 62, 75–82 (2017).

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  • Antibiotic residues
  • Growth promoters
  • Heavy metals
  • Pork
  • Exposure assessment
  • Vietnam