An audit in Slovakia found that the current official food control system is only partially effective.

Official controls in the food chain are fragmented, the competencies of supervisory authorities are insufficiently defined, they overlap, and individual agencies’ obligations are not established in law. 

Findings come from an assessment by the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) of the Slovak Republic. The NKU said the current division of competencies was not sustainable and the country should look into having one body overseeing food controls.

Responsibilities are divided between the State Veterinary and Food Administration, managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Office of Public Health, which falls under the Department of Health.

Call for a change
Auditors found “gray areas” affecting the effectiveness of official controls at certain establishments. There was also a lack of modern systems for timely information sharing about identified deficiencies or rule violations.

A lack of transparency in the entire system is affected by the fact that the Food Act has been amended 28 times. Auditors also found the national food chain safety strategy from 2013 has not been updated, so new challenges, priorities, and goals in food safety are not defined.

Henrieta Crkoňová, NKU vice president, said the lack of a comprehensive view of safety in the entire supply chain could harm the targeting and effectiveness of official food controls.

“Practices also showed insufficient communication, especially between the agriculture and health departments. Although the European Union has not determined any specific model of official control of food safety for the member states, most of them have a system of control of the entire food chain under one state authority,” she said.

“The final effect of the integrated system of official food control should be a more systematic, transparent and comprehensive performance of official controls throughout the food chain and minimize the space of so-called gray zones.” 

Food analysis in Cyprus
Meanwhile, in Cyprus, the State General Laboratory has published its annual report for 2022.

There are 32 national control-monitoring-surveillance programs on foodstuffs, including meat and fish fraud and microbiological quality.

Only 1.5 percent of more than 1,000 samples were non-compliant with microbiological criteria. Sampling found Salmonella in five raw meat products and Listeria in two packaged sandwiches, two sausages, and a smoked fish. During 2022, 84 fish samples were analyzed for histamine, mainly at import. One unsatisfactory lot of fresh tuna was found.

Twenty-five samples of meat products were examined for adulteration. In two samples, a small concentration of another meat was detected. Also, 25 samples of dairy products were tested, and three were non-compliant with the legislation. A total of 51 fish samples were tested, and nine were non-compliant as they contained a species other than what was listed on the packaging.

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