Makers of food- and beverage-related products are for the first time facing mandatory health regulations, with the unveiling of 10 national standards by the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft.
The announcement comes after the National Standard Council, a government-run committee, finally approved the standards in May after two years in the making.
The standards will be mandatory for all fish, noodle, beverage, soy sauce, cement, safety helmet and plastic bottle products, according to government officials.
“We have allowed a lot of time for small- and medium-size enterprises [SMEs] to [follow their own] standards, [but] it is time to think about consumer safety by setting out this compulsory standard,” said Chan Sopha, deputy director-general of the Institute of Standards, adding that local authorities will actively enforce the new regulations. “Products that don’t meet the standards may be banned from sale.”
The rules, which vary from product to product, are slated to come into effect in mid-August, according to Sopha.
Producers will need to submit an application to the Institute of Standards. Each will then be assessed before a government official conducts an on-site inspection of the producer’s operations.
Meeting the new national standards means that a product “is safe for consumers”, he added. “These are the products that can compete and be exported.”
The private sector has been invited by the government to provide feedback on the new rules in a consultation period that will last 30 days.
Sen Sokly, manager of Khmer Mekong Foods, said a compulsory approach was overdue.
“It is a good measure from the ministry. SMEs in Cambodia do not focus much on producing high-standard products. These standards will help change the image of Cambodian-made products, which most people perceive as lacking quality and standards,” she said.
Te Taing Por, president of the Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia, said the government needed to put more effort and resources into promoting the new regulations.
“SMEs must understand the standards and be able to implement them according to the requirements. If not, the public sector is not working with the private sector at all,” Taing Por said.