July 16, 2021
A Camcontrol official inspects the expiration date of a package of imported noodles.
The Ministry of Commerce’s Consumer Protection and Fraud Repression Department (CPFR) seized and destroyed 97 tonnes of counterfeit, damaged or altered goods, containing banned or expired ingredients in the first six months of 2021.
“It is possible that some border inspectors eventually give these unscrupulous traders the opportunity to import counterfeit and substandard products into our country,” Keovichet said. “The geographical situation along the border is complicated with countless corridors making it difficult for officials to control and creating conditions for illegal imports.”
Sorn Chey, who works for the Affiliated Network of Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, told Khmer Times on Wednesday that he questions why this problem is happening in Cambodia.
“Cambodian authorities practice the law poorly when it comes to illegal importation of spoiled goods,” he said. “Even though there are a lot of police patrolling the border.”
The department said that cooperation between relevant officials is limited.
“There is no particular official responsible for inspecting the quality of goods at the border,” Keovichet said.
“In the past, mechanisms to crack down on counterfeit goods and strengthen law enforcement and regulatory documents included training and capacity building of officers in addition to existing and related skills through collaboration with international partners such as Asean, GIZ and Australia,” said Keovichet.
The CPFR continues to strengthen the capacity of modern laboratories with sufficient capacity to obtain ISO, strengthen cooperation with relevant institutions and regulators to strengthen the implementation of crackdowns on defective goods, investigate and crack down on crime related to damaged quality or fraud in markets and warehouses and take legal action against businesses that have committed crimes and are not repentant, he said.
Chey said: “This is the same problem that has been in Cambodia for a long time. There are so many tonnes of spoiled food imported from other countries – Thailand and Vietnam – every year but Cambodian authorities did not fix it until now.”
“When spoiled food and produce are imported illegally to Cambodia across the border, Cambodian authorities have only cracked down on goods, but not people,” he said.
“The main problem is that we did not fix corruption yet. It is the main point behind the spoiled food imported to Cambodia every year,” said Chey.
Dr. Mengly Quach, a medical doctor, told on Wednesday that if spoiled food is still imported to Cambodia, it is very concerning to the Cambodian people’s health.
If people eat a lot of expired or counterfeit food it can cause stomach aches, toxicity, diarrhea and even cancer whether they are young or old, he said.
“I request that authorities take strong action about spoiled food imports from other countries to protect our Cambodian’s health. If they have very good health, the country will develop.” he said.
The CPFR requests that all relevant authorities cooperate to prevent crimes related to quality and fraud of good, in particular spoiled foods. It calls on traders to do business honestly and think about the welfare and safety of consumers as a whole, not only for personal gain which harms the health, safety and economic interests of citizens, Keovichet said. Importers and sellers of illegal products will “face the law”.
Keovichet also asked that all media and citizens cooperate by reporting any suspicions or sightings of counterfeit goods being transported or stockpiled and for all provincial capitals to take action.