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Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

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CCF officials inspect a shop with imported instant noodles and ice cream products for sale in Kampong Cham province on July 29. CCF

Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has put in place immediate measures to recall the products and ban their sale.

The GDCE’s letter on July 29 informed the directors of the relevant branches and offices of the Customs and Excise department that recently the food safety authorities of some European Union (EU) countries have found that some instant noodles and ice cream brands originating from Thailand and Vietnam contained ethylene oxide residue, which the EU, US and the World Health Organisation (WHO) consider to be substances that pose cancer risks to consumers.

The letter continues that in order to protect public health, food safety and the welfare of consumers, the customs department is imposing temporary measures against these products.

From August 1 onwards all imports of the instant noodles “Lucky Me!” made in Thailand, “Hao Hao” noodles made in Vietnam and “Haagen-Dazs” vanilla ice cream made in France must be accompanied by a certificate of ethylene oxide analysis from the food safety inspection authority of the exporting countries.

For products that arrived at customs before August 1, importers must take samples of their products for analysis for the presence of ethylene oxide at the Ministry of Commerce’s Consumer Protection Competition and fraud repression directorate-general (CCF) before allowing the release of goods from customs.

The letter said that the Audit Department must regularly monitor and assess the risks posed by these products in order to take timely and effective measures to protect the public. Customs and Excise officials must pay attention to verifying the information and data stated in the documents and ensure that the documents match up with the actual goods in order to avoid fraud.

Director-General of the CCF Phan Oun, speaking to the The Post from abroad, said that after receiving the information about the ethylene oxide he assigned CCF branch officials to check all supermarkets, markets and small businesses across the country.

“After several days of research, our preliminary results are that no instant noodles or ice cream products as identified in the announcement have been found in the Cambodia market yet,” he said.

However, Oun stated that if any CCF officials were to find those products for sale in Cambodia, they will ask the vendors to voluntarily remove them from the market and refrain from selling them and if they don’t comply stricter measures will be enacted.

He said that two immediate steps that he took was writing a letter requesting cooperation from the GDCE to have measures in guiding importers as mentioned above and requiring the attachment of a certificate confirming the absence of ethylene oxide from the food safety authorities of the exporting country.

At the same time, he has ordered his officials to inspect warehouses, markets, supermarkets and shops in all capitals and provinces to find these three types of dangerous products, but none of them have been found as yet.

The inspections took place after the EU and the ASEAN Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (ARASFF) sounded the alarm about the presence of ethylene oxide in two instant noodle and one ice cream brands, which were then immediately recalled by the food safety authority of Singapore, kicking off the wider alarm about their distribution.

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