Cambodia to introduce food safety law this year

meat cambodiaIn 2009, Institut Pasteur du Cambodge had conducted tests on raw chicken meat available in Phnom Penh’s chicken market and found that 46 per cent of the samples showed traces of salmonella. (Image source: streetwrk.com/Flickr)The Cambodian government will introduce a food safety law in 2015 that will see the country adopt a set of standards and ensure greater coordination across ministries, according to a health official

Aing Hoksrun, chief of food bureau at the department of drugs and food, said that the law was being drafted and will apply to all kinds of food, including street food.

Hoksurn added that hygiene standards were a major concern when it came to attracting foreign tourists.

“Cambodia does not have a food safety law. We just have prakas (declaration), which is signed by a minister,” he said.

The food and beverage industry is currently regulated by an inter-ministerial prakas, which sees six different ministries overlooking different aspects of food safety, Hoksrun added.

According to Didier Fontenille, director at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, a bio-medical research lab, there are currently 452 food safety standards being passed around different ministries, but only 12 have been officially published so far. A clear set of standards are needed to help guide business, he noted.

“It is a business. So if you want to develop tourism and if you want to export you have to follow the rules and regulations.”

In the absence of a food safety law, many food and beverage businesses are adopting third party standards such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP).

The HAACP is based on the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of internationally recognised standards relating to food production and safety, which prescribes seven principles and 12 steps to ensure safe food production and processing. The process to get this certification is not easy and can take a couple of years.

But it is difficult to get food suppliers to follow these rules and maintain quality standards, according to Celine Serriere, managing director at Blue Pumpkin.

She said that Blue Pumpkin is currently following HACCP, but the challenge was explaining to a chicken supplier that they cannot deliver meat in a bag and that it has to come in a case filled with ice.

Serriere added that of the 30 suppliers they have only six that can provide food tracking information or details about the origin of the meat and how it is transported.

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