AS part of a push to raise sanitation standards in the capital’s restaurants, the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department plans to issue certification logos this month for display in establishments that meet cleanliness requirements.
Phnom Penh Health Department director Sok Sokun said that of the 634 registered restaurants in Phnom Penh, just 97 had put their employees through training sessions about hygienic food preparation. For the moment, he said, the city is focusing on educating restaurateurs on the issue rather than resorting to punitive measures.
“We do not have a law to fine restaurants that fail to meet sanitation standards yet, but we have urged them to be mindful of the issue to ensure safety for tourists and other eaters by providing them with virus-, toxin- and chemical-free food,” Sok Sokun said.
A certification logo will be awarded by the health department to all restaurants that pass examinations, Sok Sokun added. This logo – a circular display showing a voluptuous woman carrying a plate of food – is meant to be displayed in storefronts in order to alert potential patrons to a restaurant’s level of sanitation, and will be awarded to perhaps half a dozen restaurants after inspections this month.
Cambodian Restaurants Association President Van Porleng said she welcomed the introduction of the logo system, which she said she hoped would build trust among customers of qualifying establishments. She warned, however, that the displays will be meaningless if local authorities do not complete comprehensive inspections.
“The logo will be useless if eaters don’t understand its meaning, and especially if there are not strict examinations of sanitation standards at every restaurant,” she said.
Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the tourism working group of the Government-Private Sector Forum, said appealing to tourists was one motivating factor for the Health Ministry to institute higher sanitation standards in the culinary community, which he said would benefit both domestic and international visitors. Whether you’re a sophisticated gourmand or a member or the pork-and-rice set, the benefits of the new logo system are manifold, Ho Vandy said.
“For one thing, the logo is issued to build trust among customers. Second, it makes it easy for tourists to find out whether a restaurant is clean or not, and third, it will improve healthcare and environmental protection,” he said.
Your say: A taste of sanitation reforms
“I am very happy that the health department will give the logos to restaurants that have hygienic food, and will urge restaurant owners to cook in a sanitary way. Some restaurants and food stores are so dirty that they don’t even clean the dishes.” - Leng Sohei, 31, businessman
“Every weekend, my family likes to go out to eat at restaurants. In some restaurants, the area for customers is so clean, but the kitchen is very dirty. When I see that logo in front of a restaurant, that will be my first choice for eating.” - Oeun Danath, 19, student
“Whenever I leave my school, I always stop to eat something in a small restaurant near my school. I notice that when this restaurant has a lot of customers eating at the same time, the waiters and owner seem like they’re not too careful with the food.” - Chan Vireak, 15, student