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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Illegal bottled-water makers face closure

Illegal bottled-water makers face closure

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Safety rising concern as most producers fail to meet standards

HENG CHIVOAN

A shop vendor checks her stocks of bottled water in Phnom Penh on Monday.

MORE than 100 bottled-water companies could be closed for failing to meet minimum production quality standards, the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy has said, adding that Cambodia's markets are being flooded with potentially dangerous drinking water.

Only 24 of the 130 enterprises are compliant with the ministry's Department of Industrial Standards, department director Ping Sivlay said. "We know that some of these enterprises don't even tell the ministry where their factories are located or what kind of water they are using to make their product," he told the Post.

Bottled water that meets the ministry's standards is currently given a "CS900" stamp, but enforcing quality control in the markets is difficult. The Commerce Ministry's Cam-Control can report suspect products to the Industry Ministry, but it is unclear by which criteria they are judged and what action can be taken against violators.

Ping Sivlay said that the Industry Ministry was working to establish an Institute of Standards that would set quality-

control guidelines for all products manufactured in Cambodia. Once this is set up, the ministry would begin banning subpar products, he said.

"We will take action against any drinking-water enterprises that do not reach national standards for quality," he said.

Ser Viseth, manager for Hi-Tech Pure Drinking Water, said his company brings samples of their product to both Cam-Control and the Industry Ministry each month for testing in order to obtain the CS900 stamp. Others, however, are not so diligent, said Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Industry Ministry.

"For those bottles of water with no [CS900] stamp, they are illegal and the water is not guaranteed to be good to drink," he said.

The overarching concern is the health impact on a public that largely relies on bottled water, health officials say.

Dr Veng Thai of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department said unregulated production methods are to blame for the varying quality of water.

But the bottled-water issue also extends to other products, in the interest of fair competition, said Mao Thora, undersecretary of state for the Commerce Ministry. "We need standards for all products," he said.

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