Cambodia Approves Draft Law on Food Safety

Cambodian workers buy food in front of their factory in Phnom Penh on March 2, 2020. Photo by AFP / TANG CHHIN Sothy

Voted by both the National Assembly and the Senate, the law will be implemented after being signed by the King

PHNOM PENH – The Cambodian Senate approved on May 18 the draft law on food safety, which aims to protect consumer health by preventing and eliminating food pollution. The text, already voted by the National Assembly on May 11, will be turned into a proper law and implemented after being signed by the King. 

Ang Vong Vathana, senior minister in charge of special missions and government representative, said ​during the meeting that this draft law is crucial to protect everyone’s life and health by eating quality food, ensuring good hygiene and preventing the spread of foodborne infections. 

“We need to establish proper ministry and national institution mechanisms to manage food business operators at all stages of the production chain, from farms to tables,” he said. “All food products circulating in Cambodia have to be safe and have good hygiene for every citizen.” 

He added that the draft law aims at establishing basic principles to promote food products being produced, processed, packaged and distributed in accordance with national technical standards and regulations that ensure the protection of life and health of the people. 

The goal of the law is to protect the consumers’ interests, he said. 

To implement it effectively, the senior minister urged the creation of a joint and multi-sectoral body, involving relevant ministries and institutions, to implement, manage, coordinate and control the quality of food safety at all stages of the production chain. 

Cambodian Institute for Democracy President Pa Chanroeun appreciated the approval of the draft law on Food Safety, as higher standards in food quality will have many positive impacts on Cambodians’ health.

“I believe this draft law will be a powerful tool to control food safety. Until now, authorities, food producers and distributors did not care much about it, causing regular health issues to consumers,” Chanroeun said. “On top of public health considerations, it has impacts on productivity and livelihoods, as people can’t work if they are sick.”

He said that previously food could contain chemical and toxic substances, affecting people’s health. Therefore, such a law will likely protect consumers’ lives and upgrade food quality standards.

“To implement it effectively, authorities need to strictly monitor who is abusing the law and [take action against every offender],” he said.     

Ieng Sotheara, founder of the Khmer Organic Cooperative strongly supports the draft law because food safety ensures both physical and mental health, he said.

“I totally agree with this law because it will provide Cambodian people with quality food to support their body and mental health,” he said.

Being a doctor, the Khmer Organic founder insists that food containing chemicals affects people’s body and mental health.

“Food can make people happy or sad, and even affect their complexion. But if the quality is low or if there are too many chemicals, it can cause diarrheas other diseases. This is why I appreciate the law,” he said.

The draft law, which has 11 chapters and 43 articles, was approved by the Senate on May 18. On May 11, the National Assembly already approved the text, with 102 votes.

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