Kampot provincial authorities on January 18 burned more than half of 12 tonnes of unlicensed seafood products imported from Vietnam after they were found to contain chemical substances that may be harmful to people’s health.
Nget Savoeun, chief of the Prek Chak International Border Crossing, told The Post that the 12 tonnes and seafood were seized on the night of January 16 and the morning of January 17 after being found to contain a jelly-like substance, often used to increase the weight of seafood.
“Out of 610 cases, weighing about 12 tonnes, 364 cases, weighing 6.1 tonnes, including shrimp, crabs, squid, oysters and cockles, which contained jelly power and other synthetic chemicals were burned on the afternoon of January 18,” he said.
According to Savoeun, the roughly six tonnes that did not contain toxic chemicals or jelly powder were found to have been imported without permission.
Kampot provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Administration director Sar Sorin told The Post that the products which did not contain chemicals were fined, according to fisheries laws.
“We have imposed fines of more than 4 million riel on the importers of nearly six tonnes salted crabs, shrimp and squid from Vietnam. This money will be added to the state’s budget,” he said.
In addition to the fines, the fisheries administration has asked the business owners and transport agents to sign contracts saying that they will stop the illegal importation of seafood or the use of expired import permits, he added.
Neither Savoeun nor Sarin revealed the identities of the traders who imported the seafood, saying that their actions were mistakes, and not deliberate acts.
Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression Kampot branch manager Soth Naroeun told The Post that the truck drivers and the importers of the products did not inject the chemicals into their products.
“They said that they had no idea of how to add chemicals or inject jelly into seafood to preserve the complexion or add weight,” he said.
“According to the claims of traders we caught with the seafood, the Vietnamese fishermen and wholesalers are the perpetrators. This was not the fault or intention of Cambodian businessmen,” he added.
According to Naroeun, jelly powder and chemicals that keep the colour of the seafood looking fresh, contain bacteria that can pose a risk to the health of consumers, such as affect digestive system and liver or causing food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, headaches, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.