The Ministry of Public Health is accelerating the setting up of at least a model flea market in each province in order to promote food safety standards.
Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said that the project would be completed by the end of 2012, in response to the Government’s policy to develop Thailand as the “Kitchen of the World.”
Accompanied by senior officials from the Department of Medical Services and the Department of Health, Mr. Surawit has inspect various markets to follow up on the progress in developing the standards of fresh markets to ensure food safety for good health among the people.
He said that consuming food contaminated with dangerous substances and germs would lead to acute diseases, such as diarrhea and food poisoning. An accumulation of toxic substances in a body for a long time might also cause cancer, a major killer in Thailand. So the Government needs to accelerate the implementation of hygienic and sanitary measures throughout the food chain, which is involved with all steps ranging from production to processing, transportation, and distribution to consumers.
According to Mr. Surawit, in stepping up food safety efforts, the Ministry of Public Health has worked out four steps of operation. The first step seeks to control the standards of fresh, wholesale, and flea markets, which are major points for food distribution. Apart from sanitary conditions and food safety, emphasis will also be placed on consumers’ protection to create confidence among the people. Any markets up to standard would be made known to the public.
The latest report shows that, out of 1,500 fresh markets across the country, 1,300 have so far received three and five stars. It is expected that the rest of 200 will receive recognition of their accepted standards by the end of 2012.
In the second step, food processing factories will be subject to quality controls under the “Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP),” a component of quality assurance at processing level. The third step seeks to upgrade the standards of 200,000 food shops and vending stalls nationwide. A total of 80 percent of the number of food shops and vending stalls have so far been certified under the Ministry of Public Health’s “Clean Food and Good Taste” program.
The fourth step seeks to check food items on sale at various places. Most of the checked food items have been found to be free from the contamination of dangerous substances.
Several Thai foods have become very popular among international consumers. Efforts to ensure the quality and safety of Thai food will even help boost the strength of Thai kitchen and promote Thailand as the Kitchen of the World.