Ex­perts stress ef­forts to up food stan­dards

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Khouth Sophak Chakrya

CAM­BO­DIAN ex­perts on Tues­day urged en­trepreneurs, traders, pro­duc­ers and sup­pli­ers to pay more at­ten­tion to food safety stan­dards to en­sure the wel­fare of con­sumers.

The ap­peal was made at the Food Safety Fo­rum held at the Mekong In­sti­tute un­der co­op­er­a­tion with In­sti­tute of Stan­dards of Cam­bo­dia (ISC), the Com­merce Min­istry’s Cam­bo­dia Im­port-Ex­port In­spec­tion and Fraud Re­pres­sion Direc­torate Gen­eral (Cam­con­trol) and other rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers.

Mekong In­sti­tute ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Watcha­ras Leelawath said at the fo­rum: “Talk­ing about food safety, we have to dis­cuss stan­dards.”

Leelawath said fo­cus­ing on the two pri­or­i­ties brings quick suc­cess in the wel­fare and liv­ing poli­cies of the Greater Mekong Subre­gion gov­ern­ments, in­clud­ing Cam­bo­dia, Vietnam, Laos, Thai­land and Myan­mar.

“Coun­tries in the [Greater] Mekong Subre­gion have great po­ten­tial in agri­cul­ture, so we can [achieve] food safety stan­dards in sup­ply and pro­duc­tion which are recog­nised na­tion­ally, re­gion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, as we have to pro­duce food for do­mes­tic and over­seas mar­kets,” Leelawath said.

An ISC re­port said that the US has the high­est safety stan­dards for its food im­ports. How­ever, some of their traders se­cretly pro­duce and im­port sub-stan­dard foods, cost­ing the coun­try about $7 bil­lion an­nu­ally.

Ly Tin, the deputy di­rec­tor of the ISC’s Depart­ment of Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion said food safety stan­dards and in­spec­tion im­prove the peo­ple’s wel­fare.

How­ever, he said it re­quired the ef­forts of all par­ties, es­pe­cially pro­duc­ers and sup­pli­ers to en­sure con­sumer safety. Con­sumers should choose ed­i­bles with food stan­dard lo­gos recog­nised by ex­pert in­sti­tu­tions to avoid risks.

“Food pro­duc­ers and sup­pli­ers must be hon­est and stop us­ing toxic chem­i­cals, which harm con­sumers’ health,” Tin said.

He said the 200 com­pa­nies reg­is­tered at the ISC have promised to fol­low food safety stan­dards.

The Depart­ment of Lab­o­ra­tory di­rec­tor at Cam­con­trol, Sin Sideth, said the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple gen­er­ally eval­u­ate all types of foods im­ported from neigh­bour­ing Vietnam and Thai­land as low qual­ity or con­tain­ing chem­i­cal sub­stances.

But such an eval­u­a­tion is “not right” be­cause most foods they im­port meet the qual­ity stan­dards.

“Whether or not do­mes­tic or im­ported foods are safe for con­sumers de­pends on the hon­esty of pro­duc­ers and im­porters,” Sideth stressed.

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