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Livestock Sector Holds Seminar of Frozen Meat Safety

PHNOM PENH: The Cambodian Livestock Breeders' Association (CBA) organized a seminar to promote safe frozen meat protocol for public health and to teach about the impact of frozen meat imports on Cambodia’s livestock sector.

Chairman of the Third Committee of the Senate and the Co-Chair of the Working Group on Agriculture, Agro-Industry, and the private sector, Oknha Mong Rithy, attended the workshop along with about 200 government officials and relevant stakeholders on November 30 at the Sen Sok Premier Center.

CBA President Srun Pov said that the main purpose of this morning's seminar was to promote food safety and to update Cambodia’s livestock industry on standards and practices.

The CBA highlighted major concerns regarding unregulated frozen meat imports, which it said are often unsafe for the people who consume it and Cambodian livestock, who can catch viruses from the meat.

Srun Pov confirmed that frozen meat that was legally imported and regulated was safe, but that he is concerned about frozen meat imported illegally and without a permit. Improper handling of imported meat and the potential for diseased or chemical-laden animals pose a public health risk.

"We do not allow just anyone to import. We allow only regulated frozen meat,” he said. “What worries us is the frozen meat that was brought in without a permit, but also the warehouses. There are a lot of chemicals in the frozen items in the warehouses and we have worked closely with the General Department of Animal Health, as well as the CCF (Department of Consumer Protection).”

A representative for frozen meat suppliers said that today's seminar provides valid information on frozen food safety for the public and all stakeholders. He said that a more informed public can feel safe about eating frozen food, which carries many benefits.

"It is knowledge for all people…related to the safety of frozen food,” he said. “Some people are still worried about frozen food. [They say it] lacks protein, or is not safe to eat. Today's workshop provided many benefits to the population so that they can know the benefits of frozen food and understand the safety of eating frozen food.”

Oknha Mong Rithy told reporters about the danger of importing low quality frozen meat without adequate infrastructure and inspection. He said that this kind of meat is destroying the local livestock sector because of vendors selling it at excessively low prices.

"Many kinds of meat sold at market, as far as I know, are infected animals that need to be buried, not sold,” he said. “But they are not buried; they are butchered and frozen for sale which is a serious mistake because the consumer does not know if it contains a virus or not."

The meat industry in Cambodian supermarkets and local markets is vibrant, with fresh meat produced daily by certified slaughterhouses. Frozen meat is also widely available in supermarkets and local grocery stores. While large stores generally sell regulated frozen meat, officials from the General Department of Animal Health and Animal Production have seized dozens of tons of defective meat illegally imported by some rogue traders.

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