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Emergency checks are intensifying ahead of Easter – 2024-04-04 10:50:48

2024-04-04 10:50:48

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In meat and eggs, the checks of the mixed levels will be extended in the next period, in view of Easter, which have already demonstrated an important work recently with a barrage of checks on dairy and fruit and vegetable products, while checks on olive oil and honey have begun .

The checks will be carried out at retail-wholesale points, slaughterhouses, entry gates into the country and national roads, with the levels being made up of officials from the General Directorates of Veterinary Medicine and Food of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food, EFET, ELGO, the Directorates of Agricultural Economy and Veterinary Medicine of the Regions, ELAS, the Economic Police, the Coast Guard, the AADE, the SDOE and the Decentralized Commands.
“It is a decision of the government, which is being implemented through the FSAAT, to intensify checks on the market, at the entry gates and where deemed necessary in order to protect Greek production in every way. By protecting Greek products in practice we support farmers, breeders, fishermen and beekeepers, honest processors and traders and protect consumers but, in view of Easter, the checks will be more frequent. We will be relentless in enforcing the law. The only ones who need to worry about this are the illegals. We won’t allow it. The harvest will be heavy and everyone should keep that in mind,” said the Minister of Rural Development and Food Lefteris Avgenakis.

The weight in dairy

Particular emphasis is placed on milk products and processed products (cheese, dairy), with checks focusing on quality but also on product labels, i.e. if the content is in line with what is written and if the labeling complies with national and EU legislation.
Samples are taken and sent to the laboratories of the State General Chemistry and ELGO-DIMITRA, with the findings being forwarded to the General Directorate of Food, EFET and ELGO-DIMITRA to proceed with the process of imposing sanctions. In addition to sampling, on-site balance checks are carried out in dairy industries.
Among the controls, announced by the Ministry, are retail sales points in Ioannina and 75 controls at the port of Igoumenitsa on drums transporting milk products.
Of the 103 samples that have been sent to the State General Chemistry, 86 are for feta cheese, of which 57 have been analyzed. No findings were found in 55, while one is adulterated with cow’s milk and in one more moisture was found to be higher than expected and nine samples show non-compliance with the labeling requirements of Regulation 1169/2011.
As far as labeling is concerned, EFET examines 267 samples, of which 249 are of various dairy products. So far, the examination of 175 samples has been completed and 78 identified non-compliances have been reported, which concern incorrect or incomplete indication of the mandatory indications on the packages, failure to indicate the origin of the milk, the country of origin, the establishment approval number and correct PDO labeling of products.
Since the beginning of the year, fines have been imposed on 17 companies, totaling 238,389.44 euros. The violations concern milk balances, excluding PDO products, and lead to sanctions directly from the FSAAT without requiring a primary or secondary Commission opinion.
An issue, however, arises with the pending cases from Sanctioning Committees. According to the current legislation, the findings of the controls for the products in which violations – irregularities have been found, are sent to the 1st Degree Commission for the Examination of Irregularities and Violations of the FSAAT.
From 2020 to date, a total of 220 pending cases have been investigated and fines amounting to €1,503,281 have been imposed. Of these, the vast majority concerned cheese products (206 cases). And the fines imposed on cheese companies are 1,337,100 euros.
The total backlog of referrals still pending is 115 cases involving cheese products.
As far as the 2nd instance Committee for the Examination of Irregularities and Violations of the FSAAT is concerned, in the four years 2020-2023, 26 business cases have been forwarded which appealed against the decision of the 1st instance Committee. Out of these 26 cases, eight have been examined (seven for cheese products and one for plant-based, in addition six have been examined by the second-tier Committee, but the process of issuing minutes and sending the decisions has not been completed, while for the rest twelve involving ten cheese products and two vegetable products, their examination is pending. At the meeting of the second-tier Committee on March 13, three cases were examined. By the end of spring, the examination of seven more cases of cheese products will take place.

Controls in fruit and vegetables

Similar checks have been carried out on fresh fruit and vegetables, among them in Ioannina and the port of Igoumenitsa. The controls mainly concern apples and potatoes, while controls have started on oranges and tangerines and are continuing on kiwis. From March 15, the mixed levels carry out checks on olive oil and honey.
The extraordinary checks on fruit and vegetables have led to the withdrawal of two batches of potatoes from Athens and Thessaloniki (green). Also, a case of possible Greekization of kiwifruit imported from Iran is being considered. In addition, a non-compliance was found regarding the labeling of the country of origin on potatoes.

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