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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Food inspections - new quality

< previous | next > 02.03.2020

Food inspections - new quality
  • From 1 July, food quality inspections will be unified in one specialized institution - the Commercial Quality Inspection of Agricultural and Food Products (IJHARS).
  • This will enable more efficient use of the inspectors' potential, and the inspections will be carried out in a comprehensive manner by one authority throughout the entire supply chain “from farm to fork”.
  • At present, food quality in shops is checked by the Trade Inspection Authority and by IJHARS at the earlier trade stages.

President Andrzej Duda signed an amended act on the commercial quality of agricultural and food products. The most important change is the unification of food quality inspections. From 1 July 2020, one institution will be responsible for this task at all trade stages - the Commercial Quality Inspection of Agricultural and Food Products governed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Currently, agri-food products intended for consumers at retail, wholesale and catering premises are examined by the Trade Inspection Authority (IH) supervised by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, while at the earlier trade stages, e.g. at the manufacturer, at the border, at packaging plants - the Commercial Quality Inspection of Agricultural and Food Products is responsible for this.

- Transferring food quality inspection and safety to one institution will help to improve the effectiveness of surveillance in the context of food security. This is an important change that has been discussed for many years - beneficial for consumers as well as farmers and undertakings operating in the agri-food sector. It is also an important step towards further specialization of state institutions and improving supervision over the supply chain “from farm to fork” - says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

Comprehensive inspections of agri-food products

After the changes, IJHARS will be responsible for food quality inspection “from farm to fork”, that is at agricultural producers, processors and importers, warehouses as well as wholesale and retail premises. It will check whether the food products are not adulterated and are correctly labelled. Inspections will include unprocessed foods (e.g. fruit, vegetables, fish and meat) and processed foods (e.g. bread, pasta and cheese) as well as food packaging. IJHARS will also check the quality of dishes served in bars, restaurants, school canteens and catering entities preparing meals for hospitals. IJHARS will be empowered to impose fines on undertakings and withdraw the entire batch of adulterated food from shops.

In order to carry out effective inspections of agri-food products quality, IJHARS will be strengthened. It is to be joined by employees of the provincial IH inspectorates, who have so far specialized in food inspections. Also, to strengthen IJHARS, 5 food laboratories: in Katowice, Kielce, Olsztyn, Poznań and Warsaw will be transferred to it by UOKiK.

Tasks of the Trade Inspection Authority

- After the changes, the Trade Inspection Authority will be able to focus on inspecting quality, safety and labelling of non-food products, e.g. fuels, toys, clothes or consumer electronics and services. As before, it will also provide advice to consumers and help them in amicable settlement of disputes with undertakings. This year, the Trade Inspection Authority celebrates its seventy anniversary - as part of the market surveillance system reform, we have started work on further improving the institutional mechanisms of IH - says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

Every year, the Trade Inspection Authority conducts almost 20,000 inspections and examines over 165,000 product batches. A large part of them has been food - ca. 7,000-8,000 inspections annually. In addition, IH oversees the product quality and safety in many industries. This includes gas stations, toys, sports equipment, consumer electronics and many, many other products. It also ensures that prices are displayed correctly in shops; it will retain this competence also in relation to food outlets. Recently, the Trade Inspection Authority has been assigned with new important responsibilities: inspection of coal depots and solid fuel boilers.

IH inspection results

On 1 July 2020, a very important change will come into force, regarding the new rules for publishing the results of inspections carried out by the Trade Inspection Authority. The President of UOKiK will be empowered to disclose, for example, the address where the inspection was carried out, the undertakings and products subject to it and the irregularities discovered. In addition, the decisions issued by the President of UOKiK and provincial IH inspectors will be published in full by UOKiK or the provincial IH inspectorates on their websites. Only information considered a business secret is to be omitted. - I am glad that the data of undertakings that sell defective products will be publicly disclosed. By expanding the scope of disclosures, it will be easier for consumers to check which products are worth buying and which ones are better to avoid - says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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