The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the Ministry of Commerce held a workshop yesterday to garner feedback from NGOs and businesses on the draft National Food Law.
The new law deals with the safety, labelling and advertising of food and agricultural products for local consumption as well as detailing standards for exports and imports of produce.
It provides food supply chains with operational guide lines and lists the duties of the ministries, businesses and agencies involved.
“A food law is necessary to promote the productivity and quality of the agricultural sector, to support consumer protection and to enhance the competitiveness of Cambodian export,” Nina Brandstrup, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Cambodia, said at yesterday’s workshop.
“[The goal is] to provide all players with the same understanding.
To have common management that will have a farm to table approach.”
The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, or the rules concerning food safety, and the application of animal and plant regulations on exports, will need to meet regional standards as Cambodia nears integration into the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of the year, Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol said.
“SPS is one of the components that will make us successful or not,” he said.
“In addition to that, I think the most important thing is the safety of our people and safety for all of us, we are consumers of food.”
Mom Pet, administration manager at the Federation of Associations of Small and Medium-size Enterprise of Cambodia, welcomed the new law yesterday, but said that it would cause teething problems for small businesses as they adapt to new standards.
“For the first time, it could affect small business, but not seriously,” he said.
Drafting of the food law started last year when the FAO began reviewing laws and best practices in neighbouring countries.
This draft was passed on to the ministries last month and then handed to NGOs and businesses for revision yesterday.
The FAO and the Ministry of Commerce had aimed to have the draft law completed by the end of the year, but Phan Oun, deputy director general of Camcontrol, which is tasked with overseeing food imports, said he expected the review to drag on for longer.
“The process might take some time because there is a lot that needs to be discussed with the line ministry, the legal people at the Council of Ministers” Oun said.
“We don’t want to have a law adopted by the National Assembly and then you find out there’s a lot of repercussions,” he added.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING SOK CHAN