“Ensuring hygiene in food cuts across the complex chain of production, processing till consumption,” Mr. Sudam Pawar, Director of MI’s Innovation and Technological Connectivity Department, remarks today as he welcomes participants in the five-day regional training program on Food Hygiene and Sanitation for Food Handlers. “You have a great responsibility to ensure that actors along the chain are informed so consumers are assured of safe and clean food,” he explains as he speaks on behalf of MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath.
Supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme, the course is being offered the second time since MI’s launch of its PROSAFE Project last year. Bringing together 28 key government officers, food handlers and operators and local food safety experts from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), the training will deliver key concepts on food safety hazards, proper food handling and hygiene requirements. This supports the PROSAFE Project’s broad objective of enabling better implementation of food safety standards and enhanced compliance across the CLMV.
Food safety remains a critical concern in the Mekong countries with foodborne diseases one of the leading causes of illness. In 2016, Cambodia reported some 1,000 cases of food poisoning throughout the country, while in 2014, more than one-third of 150 samples collected from food vendors in Myanmar were found positive of bacteria contamination. In Lao PDR, contaminated water used in cooking caused outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases in Lao Prabang district.
The training’s emphasis on Good Hygiene Practices (GHP) seeks to address these issues as it lays down the basics of food safety management systems that food handlers and food service businesses should have in place.