Food safety top priority for 25th SEA Games visitors

Posted by samakomlao Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Visitors coming to Laos for the 25th SEA Games in December will be assured that hygienic food will be available throughout the capital, including food offered by street venders.

The Vientiane Health department is working to help service providers from hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and entertainment venues ensure the food they offer is safe and hygienic.

According to the department Director, Dr Inlavanh Keobounphanh, health officials performed their first inspection in May, looking into both food and environmental safety. The second inspection is now in progress.

In the first inspection, 54 out of a total of 85 hotels passed both aspects, 34 out off 71 restaurants were endorsed, and 135 out of more than 170 guesthouses passed the test.

Those failing to meet the criteria of the inspections were advised on ways to improve practises in order to rise up to standard.

Dr Inlavanh said those establishments proving hygienically sound in the second inspection will be certified and the first round of certificate presentations are expected to take place in September.

However, Dr Inlavanh assured that her department will keep giving advice to service providers to further improve their food safety practices so that they will be granted certificates before the November deadline.

“By November, if they still fail to meet the criteria, they will have no chance of being granted certificates,” Dr Inlavanh confirmed.

During the inspections, health officials gave advice to some street food venders to improve common issues regarding rubbish management and other criteria of cleanliness, while some hotels and restaurants have been directed on proper cooking methods.

“We also check the health of the chefs to make sure they are not suffering from chronic or communicable diseases,” Dr Inlavanh said.

Being granted certification is a means of gaining the confidence of patrons and drawing in more business during the historic event.

To ensure the food they are eating is safe, visitors should look for the certificates of venders and other food providers. “Food-related service providers, especially street vendors, are required to hang the certificate in front of their shops or restaurants or display them where they can be easily viewed by customers,” Dr Inlavanh said.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo

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