VIENTIANE, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Food security and control in Laos has been boosted as the first official National Food Safety Laboratory opened on Monday in Vientiane, local daily Vientiane Times reported Tuesday.
The new laboratory is the first of its kind in Laos, serving as a ready reference center for the control of food quality throughout the country.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Minister of Health Bounkong Syhavong said this new laboratory was of great importance to food quality control system development in Laos. For several years, food security control for Laos had been forced to rely on the health systems of neighboring countries. He said the spread of infectious disease by food as a vector is still seen in Laos.
The food quality control system is not yet strong enough to prevent such cases. As such this new laboratory has an important role to play in food quality control and infectious disease prevention, he said.
The purpose of the laboratory was to safeguard local populations against food borne diseases by analysing and certifying the quality of imported, exported and domestic food supplies as well as ensuring safety across the food chain, a senior official from the Ministry of Health said.
In Southeast Asia including Laos food borne disease cause 175,000 deaths annually. The region contributes to one third of global deaths due to diarrhea in children under five years of age, said the report.
Food-borne illnesses are mainly caused by contamination with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals. Microbial and chemical risks can be introduced at the farm level by industrial waste or poultry farm waste affecting irrigation of crop. Such risks may also emerge during processing, transportation or storage of food and production processes through poor handling or accidents.