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Food safety law promulgated

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A woman sells foods at Tuol Tompoung market in February. Heng Chivoan

Food safety law promulgated

A new food safety law, designed to meet the needs of international and domestic trade and protect public health, has been promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni.

According to a June 8 Royal Proclamation, the law – consisting of 11 chapters with 43 articles – sets out the framework and mechanism for managing and ensuring the safety, quality, hygiene and legitimacy of food at all stages of the food production chain. It also provides health and food safety protection for consumers and ensures honest food trading.

The law, passed by the National Assembly on May 11 and reviewed by the Senate on May 18, applies to food quality and safety management and aims to manage the risk of tainted food circulating in the domestic market and protect consumer interests.

Phan Oun, head of the Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF) under the Ministry of Commerce, said on June 12 that the food safety law provides many benefits.

Producers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers must all understand the new regulations and work together to implement them. He warned that food inspectors would be enforcing the law to ensure that compliance was being strictly observed.

He added that the participation from all sides will have three benefits: first, people’s welfare will be protected; second, consumers will get good quality and safe food products. The final benefit will be the guarantee of equitable trading, both domestically as well as when it comes to the import and export of food products.

He said the first move once the law was promulgated was to prepare a number of legal documents. At the same time, the CCF will share the new requirements with all stakeholders through outreach workshops. After three to six months of information campaign, and the preparation of sufficient documents, the law will be enforced.

“We need to appoint additional food inspection officials, and to train judicial police so that they understand this new law. In the next three to six months, an extraordinary amount of work needs to be done,” he said.

Sun Cheko, a resident of Phnom Penh, told The Post on June 12 that from what she had seen, street food was often sold in unhygienic circumstances. She had noticed uncovered food and dirty cooking facilities.

She said the meat and vegetables used were often of poor quality, citing “porng tea kon” – duck eggs incubated for between 14 and 21 days before they are fertilised, cooked and commonly served directly from the shell – as an example.

If the new law is strictly implemented, she said, it would be a good thing and force street food vendors to pay more attention to hygiene. This would mean consumers will have a reduced risk of disease, too.

“I believe that the general public, much like myself, want improved hygiene standards. However, there are some poorer members of society who don’t seem to care about hygiene or quality – they appear to be only interested in quantity,” she said.

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