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Officials see progress in new restaurant, stall inspections

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The Municipal Health Department says the inspections have been successful in raising sanitation awareness

Rick Valenzuela

Phnom Penh market vendors often display laxity in the sanitary handling of their food products.

The Municipal Health Department has begun conducting food sanitation inspections at Phnom Penh restaurants and street vendor stalls to raise awareness of the importance of hygienic food preparation, the department's director told the Post.

Dr Veng Thai said the inspections were geared toward educating food vendors and restaurant owners about simple measures to ensure the food sold is safe to eat.

"We explain to food vendors that it is important they follow simple sanitation procedures, including cleaning their hands and wearing [appropriate] uniforms," he said "We also tell them not to use chemicals to preserve vegetables or meat."

"There are still some vendors who don't understand about sanitation and say they don't need to wear gloves or have clean hands during meal preparation, and that there is no need to cover the food because the dirt can't be seen," he said.

Signs of progress

According to Veng Thai, the educational inspection program organised by the health department is slowly getting the message across.

"We have had approximately a 60 percent success rate," he said.

Long Sivan, general manager of Guitar D'Amour Restaurant and Pub in Phnom Penh, said he is careful about the quality and sanitation of the food sold at his restaurant.

"If customers have health problems after eating my food, this will impact my business," he said, adding that approximately 100 to 150 customers eat at his restaurant daily.

Seang Sopheng, chef at Guitar D'Amour Restaurant and Pub, said she always considers sanitation before taste.

"I buy fresh vegetables, meat or fish, I clean it with salt and always keep it for only a day," she said.

Shira Ray Para Juli, the owner of Sher-e-Punjab restaurant, agrees that food sanitation is the most important consideration in food preparation. 

"I always keep vegetable, fish and meat in the fridge all day and I check it daily, and if it smells bad I will throw it out," he said.

"I don't want to make money by killing my customers."

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