More Publicity Needed in Food Inspection
24 October, 2013
More Publicity Needed in Food Inspection
To protect rights of Georgian consumers and ensure fair market competition, the non-governmental sector demands greater transparency on food market and asks National Food Agency (NFA) of Georgia, a governmental structure, dealing with food and veterinary safety issues, to publish the full list of violations of food safety along with the names of malfunctioning companies.
As a matter of fact NFA periodically informs public about the violations of food safety; however, as Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), a non-governmental watchdog
involved in food safety issues, found out, NFA does not provide a full list whereas the public is entitled to have comprehensive information on all violations. EPF requested the Agency to present the results of food market monitoring carried out by the NFA in 2013, including the lists of food products that did not comply with food safety requirements as well as enterprises that were completely, or partially suspended, due to noncompliance with food safety requirements [or where “critical noncompliance”, i.e. critically hazardous defect for health, was revealed]. More than that, EPF requested information about Georgian food products exported to EU countries and found unsafe.
According to the information provided by the NFA, 95 tested food samples did not comply with food safety requirements. Majority of violations were revealed in drinking water, ready-made dishes, culinary products, and food of animal origin. Critical noncompliance was revealed in 10 enterprises, among which were cafes and other public eateries, shops, agrarian markets, and enterprises producing food of animal origin. But not all of them were made public. As for Georgian export, there was only one notification from EU on mineral water produced by Sairme Mineral Waters, LLC where higher than allowed amounts of arsenic were found by 12 August 2013. NFA gave recommendations to the producing company, keeping Georgian society unaware of this fact. Vakhtang Kobaladze, a Senior Program Manager at EPF, believes consumers had a right to know such violations as far as the product produced by exporting company is also provided at local market and most probably it includes a similar defect.
Kobaladze admits that NFA apparently improved its inspection skills and almost tripled its efforts after the appointment of the new management in 2013. However, perusal of the requested paper-work makes clear that NFA publishes information selectively. Economic analysts believe such a selective approach is discriminating and undermines competition when one violator and its product is exposed to the public eye, while another one with a similar misdeed stands in the shadow.
“NFA made around 700-800 inspections in just six months of this year that equals to the amount of inspections implemented within almost three years. So, obviously it does a good job but it should provide full information on violations to the public. We never accuse NFA of protectionism but information should be transparent and consumer has a right to know names of all companies that are below the par,” Kobaladze told Georgian Journal.
As Davit Japaridze, Head of Tbilisi Department of NFA, explained to GJ, his office is providing Agency with comprehensive and detailed information on all sorts of breaches revealed during all inspections and they are available at the NFA site. After having browsed the web-page however, GJ found the same selective information reported by EPF.
Madona Koidze, Head of Association Protection Consumers Rights, explains NFA is obliged to spread information on violations critical for health alone and NFA bears responsibility to publish the full list. But if the breach is not critical and company is given only recommendations this kind of breaches do not belong to publicity according to the law.

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