The Dutch food agency does not have sufficient capacity to properly perform all of its tasks, according to a report.
Consultancy firm Deloitte looked at seven areas that involve the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) including food safety, animal welfare, and plant health for the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).
Of the 152 tasks identified in the study, 100 are listed as having the inadequate capacity to perform them properly. Some of them impact compliance with European rules, the extent to which agreements with third countries can be fulfilled and signals from other nations can be followed up.
Food safety is the greatest area that the NVWA oversees and the agency will spend almost half of its capacity in this field in 2020.
In the meat sector, the quality of the inspection is under pressure due to the high workload which could pose a food safety risk, according to the report. Another 82 full-time equivalents (FTE) will benefit the meat chain and food safety, according to the analysis.
Compliance within red meat slaughterhouses is relatively stable at 94 percent and it is also high at poultry slaughterhouses at 93 percent. However, there is room for improvement in the production process when cleaning rooms, machines, and materials. Personal hygiene and prevention of cross-contamination is also an issue.
In the hotel, restaurant, and catering (Horeca) sector, there can be insufficient supervision resulting in blind spots. A lack of information due to a capacity shortage will put pressure on risk-based monitoring. The compliance rate of audited companies in this sector was 46 percent in 2019.
Sampling and analysis of foodstuffs saw a decline from 36.3 FTE in 2019 to 21.7 FTE in 2020. This could mean an increased risk of food safety due to the late detection and enforcement of dangerous substances and falling consumer confidence. Insufficient monitoring can mean problems in food are not detected early. With an increase of six FTEs, the enforcement control cycle can be carried out, according to the report.
Of the 2,583 employees at the NVWA, 544 have a pensionable age within five years. The average training period for an independent deployable inspector varies from six months to three years. The replacement demand combined with the training requirement means the agency will continue to face a challenge with regards to the continuation of supervision.
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