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Saturday 16.12.2017 | Name days: Alvīne
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FVS continues inspections at food production plants

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Maris Balodis

Maris Balodis

The Food and Veterinary Service (FVS) carried out more than 9 000 inspections at food manufacturing plants last year. The most often violations uncovered by FVS include self-control system and observance of hygiene. FVS also carried out more than 30 000 inspections at food distribution companies. “Last year’s inspections uncovered different label related violations, including expiration dates, health guidelines, etc.. Violations were uncovered in 5% – 10% of inspected food production and distribution companies. Violations related to inappropriate labelling are not classified separately. Fortunately, such violations are not a common thing, there are only separate cases,” – as FVS Director General Maris Balodis told LETA.

“Those are separate cases. From a monitoring standpoint, it is irrelevant at which stage of production the fraud takes place. In the case of cheese products, sometimes the manufacturer made mistakes, sometimes the merchant. We only uncovered the fact that there were violations in the manufacturer’s actions some years ago, when one type of fish was used in the production of canned fish, while a totally different was stated on the label. And, of course, the recent horse meat scandal falls into the same category – some meat processing plants, allegedly, had no idea they were using horse meat,” – Balodis explains.

Nevertheless, according to him, it would a utopia to believe the service will inspect every single food product made in the world from labels to contents. It is impossible to do and unnecessary at the same time.

“In general, consumers can trust the information stated on the labels. In any case, monitoring the compliance of the information stated on the labels with the product’s actual contents is one of FVS’ responsibilities,” – Balodis says.

According to him, the consumer suffers from untrue information stated on the labels: paying money for a product that was allegedly produced in Latvia, the consumer is fooled into buying something that was made in some other place, and therefore should have a different price altogether. The domestic market is relatively small and the season – short. Therefore, any case of fraud, any case of misleading customers negatively affects domestic manufacturers.

When asked whether FVS receives many relevant complaints from residents, Balodis notes that the number of complaints has a tendency to increase every year. “Speaking of complaints about product labels, they are more of them about expiration dates and language. Last year, the FVS received 112 complaints about product labels. The number of complaints increased notably because most of them were submitted to regional offices of FVS. There were nearly 20 complaints received in the first three months of 2013,” – Balodis reports.

According to him, the FVS definitely supports the proposal to increase penalties, but Balodis declined to mention any specific amounts. Nevertheless, it seems that the changes to the Latvian Code of Administrative Violations are expected to come no sooner than three years from now. According to predictions, serious sanctions will come around 2016, Balodis predicts.

Ref: 102.109.109.6876


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