Police raided a warehouse storing palm sugar for distribution yesterday, and confiscated some 40 tonnes suspected to be tainted with chemicals.
The large facility producing palm sugar in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district was suspended temporarily by expert officers because they suspected the palm sugar contained illegal chemical substances.
Khan Phally, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-economic crimes department, said the inspection was launched on suspicions the palm sugar was made without following the legal norms.
He declined to comment further, saying police were questioning the warehouse’s owner and taking the sugar into evidence for examination.
According to a report from a police officer who took part in the raid, the facility’s owner is Chae Kim, 58. They seized 2,650 kilograms of white sugar and more than 30 tonnes of palm sugar.
“We are worried the palm sugar was mixed with chemicals, but we do not know for sure yet. We just know the facility was operating without the proper authorisations, so the municipal court decided to temporarily close it,” Pov Hout, Chbar Ampov I commune chief, said.
Kong Vuthy, Camcontrol department deputy director, told local media that expert officers confirmed the owner was mixing palm sugar with white sugar, resulting in a loss of quality in the original palm sugar.
Mr Vuthy said they needed laboratory results to know whether the palm sugar had additional chemicals.
On December 12, Industry and Handicrafts Minister Cham Prasidh issued a notice ordering his subordinates around the country to eliminate facilities producing counterfeit palm sugar.
“This activity is an economic crime that destroys the reputation of Khmer palm sugar, which is a national product publicly recognised both inside and outside the country,” he said. This comes a month after the closure of more than 40 fake palm sugar factories in Takeo province.