The Cambodian government is pushing for greater public awareness of food safety as it is a common problem in the Kingdom and unsafe food poses a threat to public health endangering everyone.
On November 4, the 9th National Food Day Forum took place with the theme “safer food, better health”.
Speaking to the forum, Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly – who serves as chairman of the Council for Agriculture and Rural Development – said that safe food benefits human health and well-being and provides the full benefits of the food’s nutritional value, while unsafe food can trigger a cycle of diarrhea and malnutrition that then threatens the health of the most vulnerable.
“Unsafe food is the cause of many diseases and health effects, such as stunted physical growth and mental development, non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases and even mental illness.
“Food safety plays an important role in our daily lives. It relates directly to the food system from the stage of production, processing, distribution and storage to the preparation and consumption of food from the farm to the table. Therefore, strengthening the food system for food safety and a healthy diet is important and requires all of us to pay close attention,” he said.
Multi-sector Food and Nutrition Security Project in Cambodia (MUSEFO) Project Manager Farid Selmi also spoke at the forum.
“Without a focus on food safety, food security and nutrition, the benefit of economic development will diminish because of the losses from malnutrition and the costs of care and treatment for diseases caused by eating unhealthy foods such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease,” he said. .
He added that to address this issue, institutions had to develop national food safety, quality policies and guidelines in accordance with technical food regulations and the provisions of the Food Safety Act to raise public awareness of the benefits of food safety for everyone’s health.
According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2021-2022, the percentage of immature children under the age of 5 has fallen from 32 percent to 22 percent. The percentage of children under 5 who are underweight has fallen from 24 percent to 16 percent, but the percentage of wasted children under 5 has remained the same at 9.8 percent between 2014 and 2021. Unsafe food is a major cause of malnutrition among Cambodian children.
The Food and Drug Administration Office of the Ministry of Health’s Drugs and Food recently said that from 2015 to 2021, a total of 119 people died of food poisoning and a total of 4,699 people became ill, but these figures only reflect the most serious cases of hospitalization or medical intervention. Far more harmful but less serious – and therefore innumerable – food poisoning incidents are common on a much more widespread basis across the Kingdom.
Bor Pich Zelin