Cambodia Hands Out Halal Certification Under Strict Food Safety Rules

Cambodia Ta Prohm
Tourists visit the Ta Prohm temple complex in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, March 16, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Samrang Pring)

Cambodia is taking the Halal sector seriously as it rolled out certification for food business under strict food safety rules. 39 out of around 60 applying companies received certification following official inspections.

"Companies must bear in mind that if they wish to have the certificate they must ensure their food is prepared in strict adherence to Halal standards," a trade promotion official with the Ministry of Commerce told the Khmer Times.

Before getting a certificate, businesses will have to go through inspections by officials under the Cambodian Halal Steering Committee. The committee is being monitored by the Ministry of Commerce.

The official noted that more applications have been lodged over the past few months. The ministry is expecting to get more in the coming years as the government aims to boost the Halal sector.

The ultimate goal is to attract Middle Eastern tourists to visit Cambodia's tourist destinations. The Cambodian Tourism Ministry said last week that it is looking to improve products dedicated to Middle Eastern tourists.

So far, Kampong Cham, Battambang, and Kampot have lodged the highest number of Halal certification applications. The application process will take up to one month before officials move to the next step, which is an inspection.

Once a food business is approved by officials, the Committee will then prepare to hand out the certificate. Companies awarded with a certificate are expected to comply with terms provided by the Halal committee.

It appears that Cambodia's efforts in enticing visitors from the Middle East paid off. In the first quarter, around 1,780 Middle Eastern tourists visited the country. The numbers account for a 40 percent rise on a quarterly basis.

Ministry spokesman, Top Sopheak, said the government is expecting to cater to the needs of Middle Eastern tourists by boosting the Halal sector and encouraging more companies to adhere to Halal standards for certification.

Last week, the Tourism Ministry urged food industry segments and other sectors to explore opportunities as opened by Muslim communities around the world. The ministry said it is confident in Cambodia's potential as a Halal product provider.

As part of the efforts in the need of Muslim consumers, the ministry said it is committed to promoting Cambodia's Halal sector in the Middle East.

While Cambodia will continue to provide high-quality products for its largest tourism market, China, the country aims to have a more diversified target. In the long run, the government is looking to extend its tourism products and services for tourists from the European Union (EU).

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