November 6, 2018 (Phnom Penh) – The Cambodia Food Safety Week opens today with a 300-strong crowd comprising of food safety champions and actors from relevant government and non-government institutions, as well as farmers and producers, processors, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, food handlers and small and medium enterprises from across the country. The one-week event is organized by Mekong Institute’s (MI) PROSAFE Project (Promoting Safe Food for Everyone), an initiative supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme that seeks to further promote safe food consciousness in Cambodia and neighboring countries of Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV).
Ensuring food safety throughout the supply chain is a critical issue for Cambodia with foodborne diseases one of the most common illnesses affecting both children and adults. ILRI Asia reported that in 2017, there were about 700 cases of illnesses and 11 deaths due to foodborne diseases, underlining an urgent need for proactive government action and stronger and more stringent food safety policies and regulations.
“Mekong Institute remains committed to reinforcing food safety in CLMV,” says MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath. “Through our capacity development initiatives, we aim to empower stakeholders at different levels of the food supply chain to adapt processes and practices that will equally ensure safety, quality, and competitiveness.”
Bringing attention to the importance of food safety standards, the Food Safety Week centers around the theme, Think Food Safety, Think Standards; and offers back-to-back events that aim to raise greater awareness of food safety from farm to plate. The Food Safety Forum, which opens today at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, brings in multi-stakeholder perspectives in discussions concerning the country’s food safety regulations and how agri-food SME competitiveness can be boosted through food safety standards. Selected SMEs from across the country have also set up exhibit booths to showcase high quality products.
“The PROSAFE Project promotes food safety along the supply chain – from production, processing, distribution, and consumption,” explains Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department (ADC) of MI. “In consultation with stakeholders from Cambodia, we have identified various food safety issues at different stages of the supply chain. For example, the excessive use of pesticides is considered the most pressing issue at the production stage while good hygiene and sanitation is seriously lacking during post-harvest handling of fresh produce.”
In this light, a three-day training on Cambodian Good Agricultural Practices (CamGAP) also opened yesterday at Sunway Hotel with 20 participants accounting for the government, private sector, agricultural cooperatives, and farmer groups. Complementing this is another training for food handlers on Good Hygiene Practices opening tomorrow, November 7 at Phnom Penh Hotel.
On Thursday, November 8, the Knowledge Sharing Forum on Food Safety Promotion in Cambodia is gathering about 60 MI-trained food safety champions who joined the PROSAFE training programs at MI. The Knowledge Sharing Forum hopes to open further discussions on the food control system in Cambodia and identify future areas for multi-sectoral collaboration and collective action.
The Cambodia Food Safety Week is delivered in collaboration with the following partners: Chemical Engineering and Food Technology Department, Institute of Technology of Cambodia; Faculty of Agro-Industry, Royal University of Agriculture; Plant Protection, Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary, General Directorate of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Institute of Standards of Cambodia, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft; Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General, Ministry of Commerce; Food Safety Bureau, Department of Drug and Food, Ministry of Health; and Lotus Radio.
For more information about the PROSAFE Project and its activities in Cambodia, please contact:
Mr. Ra Thorng
+66 (0) 43-202-268 ext. 3103