The Health Ministry has issued guidelines on how to prepare food to reduce cases of food poisoning during Pchum Ben which started yesterday.
A ministry statement issued nine pointers for the preparation of food and drinks to be used as offerings during the 15-day event.
It said that people should always use clean water and fresh food; wash hands with soap before and during the preparation of food and before meals; wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking or eating; and use clean cooking utensils.
The statement added that animal and bird meat, and eggs and seafood, should be cooked above 60 degrees Celsius and raw and cooked food should be stored separately. It noted that people should not consume food that has gone stale.
The ministry also cautioned those who consume alcohol to drink moderately and not before driving.
The statement noted that those who have symptoms of wine or food poisoning, such as headaches, vomiting, dizziness, or difficulty breathing, should be rushed to the nearest health centre or hospital for consultation.
Health Minister Mam Bun Heng yesterday said that those who cook to feed others have to do so in a safe and hygienic way to prevent food poisoning.
“Even when food is prepared properly for government officials, food poisoning can still happen,” he said. “I would like to encourage everyone to follow the ministry’s simple guideline to avoid food poisoning during Pchum Ben.”
Sin Sitha, 44, a Phnom Penh resident, said that Khmer people started observing the first day of Pchum Ben yesterday.
“My family brought food to the pagoda yesterday and offered it to our ancestors as is the tradition,” she said. “We feel so happy whenever we offer food to our ancestors and other family members who have died.”
Pen Minit, a pagoda caretaker in Phnom Penh, said that not many people came to the pagoda on the first day of Pchum Ben yesterday because it was a working day.
He noted that crowds are expected at the pagoda over the coming weekend.
“There was no public order problem at the pagoda yesterday although people came to respect their ancestors according to Khmer tradition,” he said.
According to a Ministry of Cults and Religion report, there are more than 5,000 pagodas across the country and more than 50,000 monks in them.
Pchum Ben, or Ancestors Day, is a 15-day religious event during which many pay their respects to ancestors, parents and elders.