Cambodia – Food safety on radar as law takes effect

Phnom Penh Post

Thol Sreyleak, 35, is a resident of O’Bek Ka’am commune of Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district. The last time she got food poisoning was in May and it was so severe she was admitted to hospital. The experience made her family of four start thinking about making their diet safer as this was the third time Sreyleak had suffered from food poisoning.

The food poisoning incidents took a lot of time away from her daily business, so Sreyleak and her family to decided to join a project to find organic and safe vegetables at the market.

“I was poisoned and had to be hospitalised. The first time was cauliflower poisoning, the second was soybean poisoning and the last was durian poisoning. In the case of durian poisoning, I had abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting until I was hospitalised and I spent $140,” she said.

After her experiences with poisoning, she worried about her health. What makes it even more difficult for her is that her stomach and intestines are weak to begin with and she would feel the pain immediately if she ate bad vegetables or fruits.

“Every day I have to eat very carefully. I’m really worried because foods [recognised as safe] are expensive. I do not know if there is any food that I can eat that isn’t harmful to my health. If I want safe foods, I have to go to markets selling naturally-grown produce, but the cost is high compared to my daily income and it is not affordable,” she said.

Due to concerns about the impact that food safety was having on people’s health in the country, the government has enacted legislation like the law on food safety and the law on plant protection and phytosanitation.

On June 8, the Law on Food Safety was promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni after sailing through the National Assembly on May 11 and the Senate on May 18.

Consisting of 11 chapters and 43 articles, the law applies to food quality and safety management that covers all stages of the food production chain and food businesses in Cambodia.

The law sets out the framework and mechanisms for managing and ensuring the safety, quality, hygiene and legitimacy of food at all stages of the food production chain in order to provide health protection and food safety to consumers, ensuring an honest and healthy food trade.

Pen Sovicheat, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said that market and street vendors were one of the ministry’s targets for promoting good hygiene and better quality to attract tourists.

The ministry considers promoting the sale of foods in the markets and on the streets that is hygienic, safe and of high-quality as the main priority.

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