Authorities in Catalonia have published details of official controls on food quality and food fraud during 2019.

The Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Food in Spain conducted more than 900 inspections in 133 companies this past year. Most inspected firms were in the meat products sector, followed by wine producers as well as processed meat and fishery product companies.

Types of control related to traceability and labeling, processes, and checking product quality and authenticity. Officials checked 438 labels of 114 products and found 341 of them to be non-compliant. Operators inspected pose a medium or high risk of infractions so figures do not reflect the overall industry situation, according to officials.

The action involved more than 250 exploratory controls, mostly in meat but also for wine, processed meals and flour, cereals, and other products. These controls provide information to assess the risk in companies.

Results of controls
Of the more than 900 inspections, 351 non-compliances were found. Issues were detected in around half of the processed meals, nuts and dried fruit, meat, and wine product controls.

Problems related to verification of accompanying documents and of the traceability system, checking of previous inspection results, checking product designation via the labeling and examination and assessment of manufacturing processes.

Examples of infractions included labeling that is false, misleading, and illegible or missing compulsory information; fraud in product characteristics or in weight and volume; use of unpermitted production processes and lack of detail to ensure traceability. Measures taken included 26 shipments seized and three suspensions of activity and sales.

From 135 food samples, most were meat products, followed by vegetable oils, fishery products, milk, and fresh fruit. A total of 24 were non-compliant. Seven vegetable oils, six meat products, three fresh fruits, and two fishery products and processed meals.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Food is the lead partner in the €1.3 million ($1.5 million) QUALIFY project that continues until January 2023 and involves six countries. The aim is to prevent fraud and improve quality standards and authenticity to boost the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in the agri-food sector.

Partners include the Bulgarian, Slovenian and Estonian chambers of commerce and industry, the regional government of Thessaly in Greece and Vienne Chamber of Agriculture, and the Béritovet veterinary agency in France.

Work is part of the Interreg Europe program. The project uses the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funds to increase SME competitiveness in EU regions and states.

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