Butter, hot dogs, juices for children and ice creams, some of the products recalled due to safety

Photo: "Free Press" - Dragan Mitreski

Hot dogs, juices for children, dried figs, ice creams, ginger powder, butter, mineral water with supplements and additives for the bakery industry, are just some of the products that were withdrawn from the domestic market last year as unsafe.

According to the Food and Veterinary Agency (AFV), in January of this year, no imported food was destroyed or returned due to unsafe conditions. 4 808 inspections were carried out, of which 2 474 were regular, control 306 and extraordinary 2 028. 3 269 consignments of imported food of non-animal origin were controlled. A total of 369 inspection measures were imposed, of which three were misdemeanor charges, 312 decisions, 27 educations and the same number of summonses for settlement with a misdemeanor payment order. 1.094 controls were carried out for import shipments and 322 for shipments in transit.

This month, potato chips from Kosovo and organic cocoa from the Netherlands were withdrawn from sale. As the Agency announced on February 14, the cocoa was not put on sale, nor distributed to the end consumers, but the amount of cadmium above the permitted level was determined in it, while the chips were available on the market and the presence of acrylamide was detected in it.

The director of the Agency for Food and Veterinary Medicine, Nikolce Babovski claims that we are eating safe food. Nothing, he says, is left to chance. The market is constantly monitored and reacted according to international standards.

As Babovski explains, any food product for which there is no guarantee that it meets the general and special safety conditions is treated as "unsafe" and is considered a potential danger to human health.

- Based on the established integrated control system, we carry out constant supervision over the operators of food for humans and food for animals in terms of meeting the general and special conditions for safety, but also for the protection of consumer rights. Controls are carried out in all stages of production: processing, distribution and sale, as well as during import. Any food product for which there is no guarantee that it meets the general and specific safety conditions is treated as "unsafe" and is considered as a potential danger to human health. Such food is withdrawn from the market by the operators themselves, but also by order and supervision of the inspection services, and is usually destroyed harmlessly. This also applies to food for animals, says Babovski for MIA.

Products at the cash register in the market / Photo: "Sloboden Pechat" - Dragan Mitreski

As he points out, although every effort is made by institutions and market operators to market safe food, there is always a possibility that some of the defined safety parameters will not be satisfied, that is, they will be violated. In such cases, even when there is a doubt that food for humans or food for animals is unsafe, measures are taken to protect the life, health and rights of consumers by the food operators themselves and by the Agency.

-If it is about imported food with consent from the competent food safety control services, the unsafe food can be returned to the operator in the exporting country. Operators themselves are responsible for placing safe food on the domestic market, which meets the general and special defined legal conditions for safety. If they consider or have reason to believe that the food that has been imported, manufactured, processed, processed or distributed does not comply with the safety requirements, they must start an immediate procedure for its withdrawal from circulation, and in the event that the food has passed the immediate control of the food operator, to inform the Agency about it. In the event that the product has reached the consumer, the operator must effectively and accurately inform consumers of the reason for the food recall and, if necessary, recall/withdraw food already supplied to consumers, in the event that other measures are not sufficient in order to achieve a high degree of protection of human health, explains Babovski.

He also notes that the food operator responsible for retail and distribution must have the relevant traceability information.

- The operator must know where the food is placed and must immediately inform the AHV if he receives or has a laboratory result of non-compliance with food safety requirements or considers or has reason to believe that the food that was placed on the market could be harmful after human health, as well as to inform about the actions taken to prevent the risk to the end consumer. Food is also withdrawn in cases of suspicion or food poisoning. In these cases, when the AHV inspectors act and cooperate with the Ministry of Health and the State Health and Sanitary Inspectorate, and if necessary with other state authorities, the official controls, the way of performing epidemiological investigations of foodborne diseases and the measures that are taken in case of suspicion and a positive finding of diseases transmitted by food and the general and special requirements and conditions that food operators have to fulfill in order to prevent and eliminate the occurrence of alimentary diseases, are carried out according to precisely defined procedures and protocols, emphasizes Babovski.

Food or animal feed that is withdrawn from the market by the operator himself or by order of the inspection services, regardless of whether it is domestically produced or imported food, must be placed under official supervision.

Salami in the market / Photo: "Free Press" - Dragan Mitreski

– The food remains under surveillance until a satisfactory or unsatisfactory laboratory finding is obtained, after which the unsafe food is destroyed or returned to the exporting operator in the case of imported food or animal feed. There is a legal possibility to convert the food if the operator requests it, and the inspection services of the Agency assess that it is possible to do so. The procedure may include treatment or processing which brings the food into compliance with safety requirements, including where possible decontamination, in a manner that enables the use of such food as food or as animal feed. The special treatment is carried out mandatorily under the supervision of an inspector, in facilities approved for that purpose. The withdrawal/revocation of unsafe products is published by AHV on the website and in the media. Operators have the same obligation to inform consumers and they mostly respect that obligation, the director emphasizes.

In 2023, a total of 56 inspections were carried out and 951 measures, 5 criminal and 642 misdemeanor charges were imposed. 11 59 kilograms of food were cancelled, 147 415 by inspectors and 38 719 kilograms by operators. Three imported consignments of non-animal products "weighing" 108 kilograms were also destroyed. 696 shipments of food of animal origin with an amount of 38 kilograms were prohibited and three "heavy" 636 kilograms were destroyed.

Last year, AHV issued 3 certificates for the export of food of animal origin and 024 certificates for the export of food of non-animal origin.

MIA

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