A food safety programme implemented by the Mekong Institute in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) has been extended until 2022.
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The Promoting Safe Food for Everyone (Prosafe) project is now entering its second phase, which will focus on increasing the safety of food in the region through a “coordinated approach to knowledge and skills development,” according to the Mekong Institute, who will be receiving the support of the New Zealand Aid Programme.
The first stage of the project ended last year after running for 18 months.
Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialisation Department at the Mekong Institute, said at a workshop yesterday that Prosafe’s second phase will aim to provide safer food to consumers by improving regional value chains, boosting their sustainability, increasing professionalism in the sector, as well as strengthening public sector commitment for an integrated approach to food safety.
“The growth of regional and international trade as a result of the globalised economy has led Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to exert more efforts not only to give their inhabitants food in sufficient quantities but also food that is nutritional and safe,” Ms Medialdia said.
“The quality and safety of food are two essential elements to consider in todays’ agricultural development, both in terms of consumers, who increasingly demand better quality, more nutritional and safer food, and the stricter regulations governing access to international markets,” she added.
Ms Medialdia said that one of the long term goals is to establish a network of skilled and capable trainers that can deliver effective food safety training in CLMV.
She said other goals include boosting the knowledge and skills of government officials as well as members of the private sector like producers, processors, and distributors.
“The public sector must support the private sector to increase the quality of food”, Ms Medialdia said.
Tuy Sokneng, food safety and quality assurance manager at Leang Leng Fish Sauce, told Khmer Times that to ensure the safety of its products, his company has been implementing a number of food safety management systems, including ISO 2200:2005, ISO 9001:2015 and HACCP.
“The awareness on food safety in the country is still limited. However, we can see that more and more local manufacturers and enterprises are starting to standardise their production and products,” Mr Sokneng said.
Dim Theng, deputy director general of the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (Camcontrol), said ensuring the quality and safety of Cambodian products requires the collaboration of the private sector.
“The government is working hard to prepare the necessary regulations and standards to ensure food products are safe,” he said.
“However, this issue is not only the government’s concern and responsibility. The private sector must also strive to enhance safety in all stages of production, including manufacturing, processing, packaging, and distribution,” Mr Theng said.
He said four government agencies have been assigned the task of strengthening food safety and ensuring the quality of local products: the ministries of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Health.
“Every day, our officials go to markets across the country to check on the stock and look for low quality ingredients or chemicals. When we find products contaminated with chemicals, we remove them from the market, and ask sellers to think more about the health of their customers.”