The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the final stages of drafting a comprehensive national food safety policy are underway.

Aing Hoksrun, chief of the food bureau at the Department of Drugs and Food within the ministry, stated that the policy’s formulation has been completed after initial efforts began in 2018.

“This national policy has reached its concluding phase. We are currently refining the wording and intend to promptly submit it to the Council of Ministers for approval. The ministry has carefully crafted this policy, which has undergone multiple adjustments,” he stated.

Emphasising the urgency of the issue, he highlighted that food safety has become a critical concern. The policy stresses the pivotal role of consumers in monitoring food safety and promptly identifying any potential issues.

Collaboration among six key ministries has been outlined in the policy. “Our focus has been on key stakeholders, encompassing government entities, private sector players, and consumers. The government’s role is to establish legal frameworks, while the private sector is expected to adhere to these provisions. Consumers, on the other hand, play a crucial role in ensuring that the private sector complies with the national food safety policy and its stipulations,” he explained.

He further underscored the necessity for seamless cooperation among the six ministries, underpinned by scientific evidence. The policy encourages extensive communication, ensuring that the outcomes are interconnected and shared among the ministries.

The government’s initial steps towards food safety management were introduced in 2010. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance have collectively implemented policies that safeguard food safety in Cambodia.

On World Food Safety Day 2023, a joint press release highlighted foodborne illnesses as a pressing public health concern in the nation. Between 2010 and 2015, more than half of disease outbreaks were attributed to food poisoning and diarrhoea.

Over the period spanning 2014 to 2019, 134 instances of foodborne illnesses were linked to factors such as inadequate hygiene in food preparation, improper storage temperatures, cross-contamination, and the use of tainted water and ingredients.

Phan Oun, head of the Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Directorate General (CCF) at the Ministry of Commerce, stressed the need for collective efforts in tackling food safety challenges. As the head of the National Codex Committee, the Ministry of Commerce is poised to lead, coordinate, and enhance the quality and safety of products and services.

“At present, progress has been made in improving food safety, thanks to the active engagement of merchants, individuals, and students. We must begin at the grassroots level, educating local authorities, consumers, merchants, and the public about food safety, hygienic practices, and personal cleanliness,” he added.

He emphasised the importance of interconnected cooperative mechanisms to effectively implement the Law on Food Safety. Such collaboration would facilitate the sharing of information about food chain risks between ministries and relevant institutions.

He expressed optimism that the newly proposed policy would bring about even more significant contributions towards the enhancement of food standards in Cambodia.