US News food inspectors criticize the reform: "Around 30 percent of the general rule controls will be dropped"

11:25  18 october  2020
11:25  18 october  2020 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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Maik Maschke is the vice-head of the professional association. He warns of a weakening of consumer protection and is also critical of Berlin's solo efforts.

Bei der Arbeit: Lebensmittelkontrolleure prüfen die hygienischen Verhältnisse vor Ort. © Photo: picture alliance / dpa At work: food inspectors check the hygienic conditions on site.

Maik Maschke is Vice-Head of the Federal Association of Food Inspectors and works as an inspector in Saxony. The district office of Pankow wants to publish the results of all food controls on the Internet from November. At the federal level, a new ordinance will soon come into force that will reduce the regular controls, Maschke sees all of this critically.

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Mr. Maschke, what good is it for consumers in Pankow when they know how the snack bar or your café around the corner performed during the last inspection?

In principle, it is good when people are informed. But too much information is harmful and dulls consumers. Instead of confronting them with all control reports that are not necessarily easy to understand for third parties, they should be specifically informed about black sheep.

What does that mean exactly?

The consumers should find out if there have been serious violations and the entrepreneur has been legally fined for them. In addition, there is already the opportunity to find out about the controls. The federal states publish corresponding reports every year. However, hardly anyone reads it. We food inspectors fly under the radar until there is another major food scandal.

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All the better that Pankow rushes forward!

I don't believe in going it alone in individual districts. We do not need a patchwork of information, but a national system.

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But we are far from that.

Unfortunately yes, but that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Pankow informs, Marzahn-Hellersdorf not, what's the point? Take a bakery with several branches in Berlin: the company has to disclose the control results in one district, not in the other. That is unjust and leads to uncertainty.

In Denmark, the results of the check-ups hang at the entrance to restaurants. Every guest can see this and then consider whether to enter the restaurant. Why can't we do that in Germany too?

Denmark has a completely different control system, the country is a central state with a centrally organized official food control. In Germany we have 16 federal states and 401 offices responsible for food monitoring. Even the fines are different. We need food monitoring that works nationwide according to uniform criteria. Then you can also talk about the symbols and the notices. I can't work with the Berliner Bären in Berlin, take my hygiene pass in Saxony and hang three forks in the window in Stuttgart.

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Another problem is that many controls do not even take place due to a lack of staff.

We are currently lacking around 1500 food inspectors in Germany to be able to carry out the regular checks required by law. In Germany, the entrepreneur is primarily responsible for food safety, we inspectors check it. How often this happens depends on the risk assessment and a point system based on it. This system has now been changed. The new regulation comes into force these days.

What's changing?

The control frequencies are significantly reduced. Around 30 percent of the general controls will be eliminated. You adapt the task to the current staff and not the other way around. All districts and cities that have not yet met the requirements will benefit from this. But this leads to a significant weakening of consumer protection.

Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner says the food control must concentrate more on the problematic farms.

If I do fewer regular checks, it becomes all the more difficult to discover the problem companies at all. Take

Wilke as an example.

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The Hessian sausage manufacturer who sold a lot of rotten meat ...

Wilke had to be checked at least twelve times a year, after the reform it is only four times a year. If a food inspector finds mold on the wall, he can warn the company and tell the entrepreneur to remove it immediately. But if you check less often, the wall is already completely moldy and the mold also spreads to the food, the operation may have to be shut down.

Instead, the Ministry of Agriculture wants to strengthen event-related controls.

But nobody knows what exactly that is supposed to mean. We conducted a nationwide survey and I can tell you that nobody is looking through it at the moment and everyone understands it differently

Farmers 'Association welcomes compromise on EU agricultural reform as a "good basis" .
The German Farmers' Association welcomed the compromise of the EU ministers on reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) as a good basis. Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) as the council chairwoman "did a very good job," said farmers' president Joachim Rukwied on Wednesday in Berlin. Agricultural policy is becoming "clearly greener", and "we farmers are proactively following the path." It is very important for farmers that the EU budget for agricultural policy remains stable.

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