The authorities on Monday denied a report by the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association (KSILA) that most goods imported from Vietnam were of the lowest quality and contained harmful chemical substances.
The allegation was made in a report which The Post obtained on Monday. It was also posted on Facebook on September 9.
Citing a year-long study and interviews by its 100 Night’s Team with residents and vendors living along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border and the Mekong River, the KSILA said in its report: “Food containing chemical substances will destroy the wellbeing and negatively affect Cambodia’s long term economy.”
It said it had conducted the research to carry out analysis on goods such as fish, meat, vegetables and certain ingredients.
Its 100 Nights’ Team, KSILA said, met with people and the authorities, and inspected the quality and handling of locally planted crops and goods imported from Vietnam and China. It said the food issue is of utmost priority and the government should immediately look into it to seek a solution.
Muong Dara, the chief of the customs and excise bureau at Chrey Thom International Checkpoint in Kandal province told The Post on Monday that his team had always done laboratory tests on goods and inspected all vegetables and other products imported from Vietnam before importers were allowed to pay the tax.
The tests, he said, did not find any goods containing chemical substances.
Dara said: “After the tax on the goods had been paid, they were distributed [for sale] to those living along the border and in Phnom Penh. Therefore, the goods do not contain any chemical substances at all.”
However, the KSILA report read: “We are so worried. Cambodians must be fearful if this situation continues as chemical substances contained in the food will cause people to suffer from cancer, diabetes, and so on.”
Its president Moung Sony told The Post on Monday that the report did not mean to indicate that all the goods contained chemicals, but most of them did.
In defence of the report, he stressed that the border officials frequency of checking goods “was not on a 24-hour basis” and “there was not enough equipment to check them either”.
“Having studied the matter, we know that Vietnam sprays preservative chemicals. They unload vegetables and soak them for preservation. At the point of import, our businessmen spray chemicals on them. After the chemical spraying, the vegetables are then distributed to the provinces,” Sony said.
Anti-Counterfeit Products Committee spokesman Liv Sophanarith told The Post on Sunday that his committee is an inter-ministry governmental body which works with a lot of institutions.
As for matters concerning border affairs, all the imported and exported goods are fully controlled and checked by the customs and police.
He said the committee cannot assume that all goods imported from Vietnam are fake and contain chemical substances since the border police have also put in great effort to check and control such goods.
Sophanarith said: “There are also committees along the border that implement controls at each checkpoint.”