Only 10 of almost 800 samples taken during food safety inspections were non-compliant, according to results published by the Ministry of Health in the Czech Republic.

From August to October 2017, the Regional Hygiene Stations (KHS) carried out the targeted checks to verify the safety of food. The Ministry of Health published the findings this month.

The focus was on food prepared without heat treatment such as fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh herbs served in sites providing catering services. Frozen fruit and vegetables were also checked.

KHS performed 405 inspections in 399 catering establishments and 775 samples were taken.

E. coli and Yersinia found
A total of 387 samples were taken for microbiological contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, Salmonella, Yersinia enterocolitica and the total number of microorganisms and 388 samples for virological examination.

Norovirus was not detected in the samples tested for viruses. Out of the tests for microbiological examination, 10 samples failed.

In five cases, high total counts of microorganisms were found in frozen raspberries, fresh carrots, freshly sliced pumpkin, a salad with cabbage and carrots and sliced cucumber salad.

On three occasions, E. coli was detected in vegetable salads and Yersinia enterocolitica was found in a salad with cabbage with carrots and in a vegetable salad of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and dressing.

Officials said as there is no heat treatment and dishes are intended for direct consumption, it is important to practice personal hygiene and wash hands thoroughly when handling unpackaged food, properly wash fruits and vegetables, keep all utensils clean and in good condition, wash worktops for cutting fruit and vegetables thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination during food preparation and to follow the correct temperature conditions during storage.

In July to November 2019, KHS verified the safety of sous-vide meals served in establishments providing catering services. KHS performed 167 inspections in 164 food service outlets and 171 samples were taken for microbiological examination. Only four did not comply with the established criteria.

Meat controls
Earlier this month, inspectors at the State Veterinary Administration (SVS) helped find a vehicle transporting 250 kilograms of poultry and meat of unknown origin in conditions described by officials as “unsuitable”.

Picture courtesy of SVS

They found almost 40 insufficiently closed plastic bags of poultry and a crate with 15 kilograms of unpackaged beef and pork. The vehicle was not clean, partially damaged and not equipped with a cooling system. Upon request, the driver did not submit documents on origin of the animal products.

Veterinary inspectors decided to dispose of the products. Offenders can face a fine of up to Czech Koruna 50 million (U.S $2.3 million).

In January this year, SVS inspectors discovered more than 70 kilograms of seafood and meat products in unsuitable conditions and not in compliance with the required temperatures during a joint inspection.

Veterinary inspectors found the vehicle was carrying almost 73 kilograms of food of animal origin without labeling or proof of origin. The offender also didn’t have the required registration from the regional veterinary administration to transport such products.

Frozen packaged seafood made up the majority of the load with almost 40 kilos but it also included processed unpacked poultry, unmarked meat products and unpackaged pork.

Frozen food showed signs of repeated freezing, which is prohibited by legislation, and was transported at higher than minus 18 degrees C (minus 0.4 degrees F) which was the temperature set by the manufacturer. Some of the frozen food was not labeled or was after the expiration date.

Veterinary inspectors destroyed all the foodstuffs of unknown origin. Offenders can face a fine of up to Czech Koruna 1 million (U.S. $4,700).

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