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Health Ministry calls for food hygiene during Pchum Ben

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
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Food offering to the monks during the Pchum Ben festival. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

The Ministry of Health has reminded the public to practice food hygiene to prevent illness during the Pchum Ben festival.

According to a ministry press release issued on Monday, food poisoning is still a major health problem in both developing and developed countries.

“To prevent health problems from food and drinks consumption during the Pchum Ben festival, the ministry calls on the public to take preventative measures to avoid problems and infections caused by unhygienic food or contaminated water containing bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.”

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng in the statement encouraged everyone to practice food safety practices when preparing meals, such as washing hands with soap before and during food preparation, washing fruits and vegetables, properly cleaning cooking tools, not storing food for too long, and not consuming expired food.

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“Everyone, from consumers to people who serve foods, play an important role in promoting food safety, from practicing good hygiene to learning how to properly store specific types of food,” he said.

Ly Sovann, Health Ministry spokesman, yesterday said that most food poisoning cases are caused by poor hygiene during food preparation and the consumption of alcohol produced without proper health standards.

He noted that the symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, which can be dangerous. He added that poisoning from improperly made alcoholic beverages causes symptoms such as headache, vomiting, stomachache, dizziness, fainting, convulsion, and difficulty in breathing, which can lead to death.

“Therefore, the people must immediately stop drinking rice or herbal wine bought from unclear sources and produced without proper standards,” he said. “The ministry would like to instruct all adults to drink alcohol in little amounts, and do not drink alcohol and drive or operate machinery.”

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, in a letter to media owners issued on Monday, instructed for the dissemination of educational messages related to drugs and road accidents during the Pchum Ben festival, when many Cambodians will travel to pagodas and their hometowns to unite with their families.

“This dissemination is to remind the people and raise their awareness to better protect themselves, their families and communities, and to stay away from drugs that affect life and property,” he said in the letter.

“In addition, [for the public] to also travel with extreme caution, especially during the Pchum Ben festival, when there are large numbers of people traveling on the roads, and prevent traffic accidents, which can result in the loss of property and lives of our citizens.”

Pchum Ben festival celebrations began on Saturday and will run until September 29.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on all levels of authorities to increase safety measures, security and maintain public order, as well as to monitor traffic flow in order to make it easier for people to travel during the festival period.

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