A localized training on Good Hygiene Practices (GHP), held last November 17, 2017 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, placed emphasis on proper handling, preparation and storage of food as fundamental to food safety.
Organized by Mekong Institute in partnership with the Food Safety Bureau, Department of Drug and Food (DFF) of the Cambodia Ministry of Health (MoH), the training was attended by 22 food handlers in the food catering industry. The one-day event covered basic food safety for food handlers, principles of good hygiene practices and guidelines for applying GHP certificate and hygiene label from DFF. It was organized as part of the action plan implementation of Dr. Veal Chandarith, Mr. Kho Viriya and Mr. Khieu Sothy, DFF staff who attended food safety courses in MI early this year.
Speaking at the opening, Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of MI’s Agricultural Development and Commercialization (ADC) Department, explained that food contamination occurs along the food chain – from production to consumption. Efforts of farmers to produce safe food become useless if food products are not handled properly along the rest of the chain, such as during preparation. She further stressed that cleanliness costs very little but lack of it can mean substantial losses for a business if customers go elsewhere or if legal cases are filed as a result of people getting sick from unclean food. Training of food handlers is important, and needs to be put in place to minimize associated risks.
Likewise, Dr. Aing Hok Srun, Chief Food Safety Bureau, briefed participants on the food outbreak cases in Cambodia, which has significantly dropped compared to previous years. According to him, knowledge of basic food safety and hygiene is a must for all food handlers – whether cook, server or seller – and this is why the Food Safety Bureau continuously provides training to food handlers in food businesses. He further noted that a food handled better or preserved better preserves more nutrients and is safe to eat, and contributes to reduced postharvest losses and wastage.
Under the Inter-Ministerial Prakas 868, MoH oversees all matters of public health, including ensuring the safety and condition of food offered for sale in Cambodia. DFF has been requested to provide the Ministry with guidance in the creation of a fully integrated food control structure involving all stakeholders in the food supply and food control chain.
The localized training was organized with the support of the New Zealand Aid Programme. MI, through the ADC Department, provides further support to its training participants interested in applying GHP certification and Hygiene Labeling.