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New slaughterhouse regulations aim to curb disease

A woman organises cuts of meat at her stall in Phnom Penh’s Kandal market in March.
A woman organises cuts of meat at her stall in Phnom Penh’s Kandal market in March. Kimberley McCosker

New slaughterhouse regulations aim to curb disease

Ahead of the opening of Cambodia’s first modern abattoir, which is slated to begin operations in the near future, a new draft law to regulate animal produce and slaughterhouses was announced on Friday, along with the establishment of a “National Butchers' Day” to be recognised annually on January 8.

The 22-chapter law, revealed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Council of Ministers, “ensures the management and development of animal health and animal production, to prevent and eliminate the spread of animal diseases”, according to Council spokesman Phay Siphan.

The government’s press release welcomed new opportunities for industrial development in the meat production sector, as well as job creation and poverty reduction as the result of the new laws and a growing demand for meat in the Kingdom.

Siphan sought to explain the necessity of regulation by citing predictions by the United Nations that demand for meat, eggs, milk and animal products in developing countries will rapidly approach that of the developed world by 2020.

A 2011 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) study points to the spread of infectious diseases as a serious public health consequence of rapidly increasing livestock production.

“Dealing with the staggering human and animal disease burden that persists in the developing world and the continual emergence of novel diseases . .  . require solutions that embrace the way in which the livestock sector grows to meet increasing demand,” it says.

In August, a breakout of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome claimed the lives of more than 1,200 pigs and infected some 3,200 more across three districts in Siem Reap province.

Prum Vich, head of animal health and reproduction at the Ministry of Agriculture said slaughterhouses require hygiene standards to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens.

“The meat demand always increases on the market now, so we need healthy [meat] for people,” he said.

Sous Van, a 33-year-old butcher in Kandal market, welcomed the regulations, explaining that not everyone in his trade maintains sanitary practices.

“There is a lot of meat production every day, sometimes they [butchers] do not care about hygiene, [so] I agree with the draft law of animal health and the national day for butchers,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALESSANDRO MARAZZI SASSOON

A previous version of this article stated that Cambodia's first modern slaughterhouse had already opened. It is in fact due to open in the near future. We apologise for any confusion this may have caused.

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