Prime Minister Hun Sen urged citizens to be extra careful about sources of food yesterday, following a spate of deaths in Kratie province from poisoned dog meat and adulterated wine that have claimed 21 lives and left 190 in hospital.
“Only the people themselves can save their own lives,” he told an audience on Diamond Island. “Please pay more attention to your own safety”.
The premier went on to acknowledge that authorities are responsible for inspecting food in markets, but insisted they could not inspect food in people’s homes.
However, Hun Sen made no mention of a long-awaited food safety law, in the works since 2004, intended to replace piecemeal regulation which sees six ministries overlooking different aspects of food safety.
Government officials yesterday were unwilling to discuss in detail when the food safety bill, which had been expected to come into force this year, might become law. Ken Ratha, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, which has primary responsibility for the legislation, would only say it was still under consideration.
“It is being discussed internally, and we will need to agree upon the technical substances with [other] ministries as well,” he said. “We have goodwill to push that law.”
On Saturday, two more fatal cases of wine poisoning were reported, this time in Mondulkiri province, but were linked to the deaths in Kratie by a local police official.