Cambodian authorities are stepping up inspection efforts of vegetable imports along the border after Vietnamese produce shipped to the European Union was found to contain harmful bacteria, an official from the Kingdoms import inspection unit said yesterday.
Vietnamese media reported last week said that the European Union Consumer Protection Agency has issued a warning to the Vietnamese government that the country risked a ban on certain vegetables imported to the EU if the produce continued to violate safety standards.
An official from the General Department of Camcontrol, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to media, told the Post yesterday that although they had not yet found any breach of standards, they were now taking more precautionary measures to strengthen inspections at international checkpoints along the Vietnamese border.
“After receiving notification from the EU, we have sent more inspectors at all the important checkpoints along the Cambodia and Vietnam border, and inspection is now done in a stricter manner,” the official said.
“The inspections include the way the vegetables are packed, transported and at what temperature, and if found necessary, some of the sample will be sent to the laboratory for testing,” he went on to say.
The official said the department is working to prevent the worst case possible. However, he warned that consumers should pay extra attention to the hygiene standards applied to vegetables sold at the market.
“Vegetables should be washed and cooked well before consuming,” he said.
Researchers estimate that Cambodia imports more than 200 tonnes of vegetables from Vietnam each day.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), said a lack of local producers made Cambodia dependent on imported vegetables, which meant there was less control over production standards.
Cambodia is susceptible to the use of pesticides and chemicals used in farming in other countries Korma said.
“Because we do not have enough local growers, we imported most of the vegetable that cannot be produce locally. We have to be careful on this. The department of Camcontrol should double check on the imported vegetables,” he said.
Komar said that the government should adopt a national policy encouraging more farmers to start growing their own vegetables to help support local demand.
According to Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre, upon receiving the EU warning, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has suspended the exports of basil, chili, bitter melon, celery and cilantro until the end of next year.