A controversy has erupted over the government of Thua Thien-Hue’s new rule that requires organizations and individuals to register for using the “Bun Bo Hue” (Hue-style beef noodle soup) brand name and selling the authentic noodle soup of the province no matter where they are located in the country.
The requirements for ingredients, cooking recipe, and food safety and hygiene are provided in a document signed by provincial vice chairman Phan Ngoc Tho on issuance of recognition certificates, management and use of brand name bun bo Hue, a specialty that originated in the central province. The Thua Thien-Hue Tourism Association has been assigned to manage the brand name and relevant issues.
Unsurprisingly the province’s regulation has drawn a lot of criticism. Particularly, the owners of eateries that sell the soup outside the province have voiced outcries over the rule, saying it is a kind of sub-license, so it is against the central Government’s effort to do away with business conditions. Some have argued that it will prevent the spicy beef noodle soup from being cooked to the diverse tastes of diners.
Tho has quickly responded to the criticism by saying that the dish has been sold by signature restaurants and street vendors and that its true flavor and quality have changed, so the rule is aimed at ensuring authentic bun bo Hue, protecting consumer rights and preserving the brand name.
Eateries in and outside Vietnam are exempt from registration if they do not want to use the logo, Tho told Tuoi Tre newspaper.
A number of provincial specialties have become national dishes like pho (noodle soup served with beef or chicken) and goi cuon (fresh spring rolls), to name just a few. Brand name registration for these dishes is a must to facilitate better protection and promotion but national brands need to be managed by a national-level agency, instead of a local organization, as there are issues that the province’s tourism association cannot solve in other localities such as quality management and food safety.
If Thua Thien-Hue Province wants to bring authentic bun bo Hue to more diners, it should team up with a national-level agency to prepare a campaign to do the branding for the dish at home and abroad.