The Czech food agency has revealed findings from various inspections and controls in its annual report.

In 2023, the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority (SZPI) detected 4,192 non-compliant lots of food and other products. This included 3,542 non-compliant lots in retail, 160 in production, 128 in wholesale, and 362 in other areas.

SZPI found the most deficiencies in foodstuffs imported from non-EU countries, while the lowest proportion of non-compliant samples was in items made by domestic producers.

Compliance with microbiological criteria was checked for 3,435 samples of foodstuffs, meals, ice, bottled water, and environmental swabs. Onsite inspections discovered 370 lots unfit for human consumption, and 151 non-compliant samples were detected in laboratory tests.

The greatest number of samples found to be unsafe were dairy products, meat products, and fresh vegetables. Frequent issues included visible mold growth and spoilage.

Microbial non-compliances
Salmonella was found in 14 lots of fresh chicken, goose and duck meat and one lot of pork tested from the market. Listeria monocytogenes were detected in one lot of smoked trout fillets taken from the market and one lot of cold dishes from a production plant.

Limits for Bacillus cereus were exceeded in three lots of mushrooms of Asian origin. Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) was detected in one sample of steak tartare taken from catering facilities.

SZPI carried out 13,550 controls in restaurants, bistros, pubs, bars, and other types of public catering establishments. The agency found a violation of legislation during almost every fourth inspection of this sector.

Almost one-third of inspected establishments failed to comply during checks focused on compliance with hygiene regulations. SZPI said the current situation in the public catering sector was “not satisfactory” and added that it would pay increased attention to the industry.

Thematic inspections revealed problems with the traceability of apples, olive oil, and honey characteristics, food labeling, and food from Ukraine. Eight of 66 samples of poultry meat from Ukraine were positive for Salmonella infantis.

371 notifications concerning the Czech Republic were distributed through the RASFF national contact point, while the country sent 93 original notifications.

Almost 3,000 administrative proceedings for non-compliance with food legislation by operators were completed, for which SZPI imposed fines of almost CZK 130 million (U.S. $5.7 million), which is about CZK 18.5 million (U.S $800,000) more than in the previous year.

Inspection results
Meanwhile, recent operations by the State Veterinary Administration (SVS) have uncovered violations in meat storage and traceability of products.

In April, SVS inspectors discovered several breaches of regulations around the storage of products of animal origin during a visit to a restaurant in the Znojmo district. This involved storing meat of unknown origin or with an expired use-by date. The operator also kept some raw materials at an inappropriate temperature.

Officials found 11 kilograms of meat of unknown origin in a freezer box and 13 kilograms of packaged meat after the use-by date. Temperature checks on some meat showed it was over 12 degrees C (53.6 degrees F), while the temperature required by legislation is up to 4 degrees C (39.2 degrees F). Administrative proceedings will be initiated against the restaurant operator, who could face a fine of up to CZK 50 million (U.S. $2.2 million).

In March, a joint inspection with Customs officers involved a van carrying 1,315 kilograms of non-compliant food of animal origin.

The vehicle, registered in Poland, contained fresh and frozen chicken not in the manufacturer’s original packaging. It was not possible to match documents with the food being transported. Inspectors could not verify shelf life or whether food had come from approved businesses under supervision. Veterinary staff seized the products and ordered their destruction.

Also in March, SVS officials and the police discovered an illegal food warehouse in Prague. Almost 300 kilograms of food of animal origin was in the unapproved site, including frozen fishery products, meat products, and frozen pork meat.

Products were not marked in any way, they were not in the manufacturer’s packaging, and the operator did not supply documents about their origin. Some goods showed signs of improper storage and freezing. Storing and marketing of animal products was banned, with operators facing a fine.

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