THE Cambodian government has called for institutions to join forces to end the trade of illegal untreated salt, as a UNICEF study showed the banned product had gained market share.
Officials say that untreated salt is often smuggled to Cambodia from neighbouring countries and sold at market without adding iodine – which is put into the product to aid an estimated 4 million Cambodians consuming insufficient iodine.
A sub-decree titled Managing Iodised Salt Business, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and enacted into law in October 2003, laid out punishment included fines of up to 1 million riels for those selling untreated salt.
But stricter enforcement of the regulation was necessary, according to Sub-national Commission of the Elimination of Iodine Shortages representative Chan Pong Vathana, speaking at a conference in Phnom Penh this week.
Consumption of iodised salt in Cambodia fell from 98 percent in 2008 to just 53 percent last year, according to a UNICEF study.
Salt was being increasingly smuggled into Cambodia from Thailand and Vietnam without the required processing, officials said.
“We are looking at measures to crack down on the smuggling of such non-iodised salt,” said Peung Sivlay, chairman of the Sub-national
Dealers yesterday welcomed the calls for stricter moves to regulate sales. Duong Phalla, a salt dealer near Phnom Penh’s Psah Chas (Old Market), said yesterday she supported the government’s stance, adding it did not affect her business as she stopped selling non-iodised salt in 2002.
“Nowadays, we sell only iodised salt supplied by salt producers in Kampot and Kep salt, because it’s the customers’ favourite,” she said.
Kampot and Kep Provinces Salt Producers Community reported yesterday it had sold 60,433 tonnes of iodine salt during the first nine months of 2010 worth US$2.87 million, after selling 73,226 tonnes for $8.36 million during the whole of 2009. Co-president Bun Baraing said that salt was commanding half the price of last year due to excess supply.
The organisation began mixing iodine into its salt in 1999, supported by UNICEF.