Authorities in Takeo province’s Baty district on Saturday shuttered 43 factories producing fake palm sugar following repeated warning to owners to cease production.
Poun Chhim, Baty district governor, said that the 43 locations were being run by three companies and have been permanently closed.
Mr Chhim said that authorities had already issued warning to the companies to cease production of the fake sugar, which went unheeded, and has now led to the 43 locations being permanently closed.
“We always watch their activity, and if they were found producing fake palm sugar, the authorities do not allow them to do so,” he said. “We must close them down.”
Mr Chhim added that some of the locations were ordered to close last year, but reopened and continued producing the fake sugar in secret.
Chhe Soy, Lumpong commune chief, said that the producers were altering refined white sugar to pass it off as palm sugar produced in Cambodia.
“When I asked them why they love producing fake palm sugar, they said it cost less to make and could be sold for the same as the real thing,” he said. “I said back to them that they were cheating customers and that it was not the right way to do business.”
“You have to be honest,” he added. “Consumers could get sick from counterfeit products.”
In December, Industry and Handicrafts Minister Cham Prasidh issued a notice ordering his subordinates around the country to eliminate facilities producing counterfeit palm sugar.
The minister said that such 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.
In January, police raided a warehouse storing palm sugar for distribution and confiscated some 40 tonnes suspected to be tainted with chemicals in Phnom Penh.
The large facility producing palm sugar in Chbar Ampov district was suspended temporarily because it was suspected the palm sugar contained illegal chemical substances.
Por Leangkong, chief of the provincial Camcontrol department, said that the production of fake products, including fake palm sugar, can have dire consequences because no standards are followed during production.
“Their work is dangerous,” he said. “They take white sugar and use different ways to pass it off as palm sugar.”