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Hun Sen calls for organic food, international safety standards

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A vegetable vendor waiting for customers at a local market in Phnom Penh in early March. Heng Chivoan

Hun Sen calls for organic food, international safety standards

Prime Minister Hun Sen called on all stakeholders to pay closer attention to safe food production, starting with chemical-free production, organic cultivation and increased inspection of food products.

While addressing a March 6 graduation for nearly 2,000 students from the Institute of New Khmer Generation, he said Cambodia had made great efforts to overcome the famine conditions that were left by the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime.

“Before, we were hungry, but now our bellies are full, and we are healthy,” he said.

“Now that we have overcome starvation, it is time to turn our attention to the principles of safe, healthy food production. Chemical fertilisers, if used, must be employed carefully, and organic cultivation should be encouraged,” he added.

The prime minister called on people across the country to pay close attention to health issues as the world is experiencing the effects of climate change, which has lead to many dangerous consequences.

While at the Agriculture Fair in the French capital Paris from February 28 to March 2, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina also expressed his commitment to promoting food safety in Cambodia and ensuring the health of consumers.

“Strengthening production and adhering to the strictest international standards should be our goal, if we are to compete for global market share,” he said.

Hou Kroeun, deputy country director at Helen Keller International (Cambodia), said food insecurity poses a global health threat and endangers everyone.

“The five most vulnerable groups who are affected by food insecurity are infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses,” he added.

He expressed support for the premier’s calls, and urged an increase in public awareness campaigns that encourage people to seek out a safe, nutritious diet that includes fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, meat and eggs.

“A healthy diet improves people’s young people’s growth and development and increases the productivity of adults,” he said.

According to the Food Safety Office of the Department of Drugs, Food, Medical Devices and Cosmetics under the Ministry of Health, from 2015 to 2021, a total of 4,699 food poisoning cases were recorded in the Kingdom, with 119 deaths.

A recent study by the health ministry and Helen Keller international concluded that a high proportion of the Kingdom’s youngest citizens have an unhealthy diet.

At present, Cambodia does not have specific regulations or standards governing the labelling of the nutritional components of food or drink, nor for dietary supplements for children from the age of six to 24 months, the study noted.

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