“Alarming” report on retail chain food safety

A report from inspections made by the State Veterinary and Food Administration that was released yesterday by the Ministry of Agriculture has pointed to gross violations in the sale of poultry products in large retail chains. Agriculture minister Zsolt Simon has called the results pretty alarming.

The food authority made inspections of all major retail chains in the country throughout October after the number of complaints from customers started escalating. The biggest deficiency concerned damaged packaging, but storage temperatures and inadequate hygiene were also issues.

Top retailer Tesco Stores SR came out worst, but minister Simon admits the possibility of information about the inspections being leaked to other retailers. Tesco has reacted by saying the results and statements surrounding the report have been blown out of proportion. The company’s external relations manager Olga Hrnciarova underlined that most of the deficiencies concerned broken packaging.

Minister Simon is now planning to prepare legislative proposals to change how retail chains are supervised, and how the veterinary and food authorities operate. He also plans to get tougher with fines, saying the retail chains can afford it with their huge profits anyway. The biggest fines imposed to date were EUR 20,000-25,000.

The retail chains will certainly be more careful just now, as the inspections will be carried out also in November.

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