A regional court in the Netherlands has found there are issues at a food company but they are not serious enough for it to be shut down. Implicated chia seed was sent to the United States.

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) wanted the temporary closure of Doens Food Ingredients for not meeting food safety requirements.

It follows an investigation by the Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA-IOD).

In October 2020, the NVWA-IOD searched two locations of the company in the south west of the country and seized records.

The company is suspected of not having informed the NVWA about batches that did not meet food safety requirements and posed a risk to health. These included products contaminated with Salmonella and of chia seed with high levels of aflatoxin. The chia seed was sold to a company in the United States and another in Argentina in October and December 2018 respectively.

By doing this, the company has knowingly endangered food safety and the health of consumers, according to OM. Authorities also suspect the company falsified analysis results.

Concerns not worthy of closure
The Economic Council Chamber found there are serious concerns but the situation is not urgent enough to warrant closure of the company for six months.

From 2016 to 2019, the NVWA drew up four penalty reports for non-compliance with food safety rules by the firm which was also reported to have had hygiene and pest control issues in 2016.

The OM and Economic Council Chamber expressed concerns about corporate culture, saying there are indications that making a profit is more important to the company than food safety.

Despite worrying findings, the court found there was insufficient reason to believe that food safety is currently being threatened by keeping the business open.

It ruled there were no concrete indications that recent conduct has endangered food safety with suspected breaches taking place from January 2015. There are no indications that offences were actually committed in the recent past. The last sale in connection with the violations referred to took place in October 2019.

As the firm is on the radar of the NVWA, including a letter from the agency earlier this year, a strong preventive effect can be expected, according to the Economic Council Chamber.

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