High school students are concerned that unsafe food is sold at schools and have appealed to officials to ensure that unstandardized food, which affects students’ health, is not sold.
Khmer Times reporters visited Hun Sen Serey Pheap High School in Takhmao city in Kandal province and Tuol Tompoung High School in Phnom Penh which revealed that students are uncomfortable about the food sold as it is mostly unsafe and unstandardized.
Chim Puthyroth, a 17-year-old student, who studies grade 10 at Hun Sen Serey Pheap High School, said that he was concerned over the food and snacks sold at school as they have high sugar levels and are unhygienic.
“I feel very concerned about the food and snacks sold at school, especially canned drinks and energy drinks, they are sold everywhere and the majority of students drink them recklessly including me. The result of eating these kinds of food has a bad impact on our health. The impact won’t show immediately, but it will in the future if we eat unsafe food, ”he said.
A 15-year-old student, Meas Sambath, who studies grade 11, said yesterday that the food and snacks sold at school should be thoroughly investigated, as he feels very uncomfortable with the food he eats.
“The food sold is too salty and some is too sweet, and most of the snacks are too sweet, so I cannot eat them. I’m sure that the snacks contain high levels of sugar and will cause diabetes if I continue to eat them regularly, ”he said.
A 16-year-old student, Seng Tola, who studies grade 10 at Toul Tompong high school said yesterday that relevant government agencies should review the food products sold in schools and provide information about food safety and identify what kind of food and snacks could be eaten.
“I had food poisoning last week. I vomited and had a stomachache for two days, and I had less energy than usual. It came after I drank soy milk. It was very sweet like honey, ”he said.
“I hope I can understand and learn more about food safety as a youth. I need to develop this knowledge and teach others too, because health comes first before everything, ”he added.
Director-General of the Consumer Protection Competition and Fraud Repression of Ministry of Commerce Phan Oun said yesterday that the government has been working with relevant ministries and organizations on the food safety law. It is now with parliament.
“The food safety law will protect people across the country because anyone who sells or imports unstandardized food will face serious legal action,” he said, adding that along the way we are working with the education ministry to review food sold at schools.
Multisectoral Food and Nutrition Security in Cambodia (GIZ-MUSEFO) Advisor Sanne Sigh said that nutrition standards on commercial food and snacks promoted to young children can help ensure that the food marketed and sold are of a better nutritional value.
“Unstandardized food and snacks allow producers to market and produce products as they like, which often can mislead mothers and families. Commercially produced complementary food and snacks fed to children are often high in sugar, salt, and fat, ”she said.
She added that these products are often labeled with various health claims and promotions, making consumers and buyers believe they are healthy and suitable for their young children. Such health claims can be: “Contains protein, calcium, zinc and vitamin D” or “Your baby’s right choice.”
“Given that commercial food and snacks are accessible and not as time-consuming for caregivers to cook and provide to their children, these will remain on the market as long there is a demand,” she noted.
Sanne said that it is essential to have proper standardized regulations and quality assurance of these products to ensure appropriate nutritional status, development and growth of young children in Cambodia.