While shopping at local farmers markets in Prague has become a popular pastime, consumers should pay attention to the conditions the food is kept in.
So far this year, inspectors from the State Veterinary Administration (SVS) have carried out 53 inspections in 14 farmers markets in Prague, and found problems 26% of the time. The most serious problems were the sale of food of unknown origin or expired food.
The SVS is concerned only with meat-based products. They do not examine vegetables, baked goods, or check for shady business practices such as giving the wrong change.
The number of problems is up slightly from last year, when issues were found in 24% of inspections, but down from the past. In 2017, the problem rate was 30% and a year before that it was 32%.
“Inspectors found errors in 13 cases, in six cases they took on-the-spot measures based on a ban on the sale of animal products and a regulation on the destruction of non-compliant products,” SVA deputy spokesman Petr Majer said, according to press reports.
The SVS also found food coming from businesses with suspended activities, and found some vendors did not observe legal storage temperatures or sufficiently protect food from external contamination.
One example the SVS gave was that at the farmers market in Palackého náměstí in Prague 2 meat products were being sold at 23 degrees Celsius without refrigeration equipment. The inside of the meat products reached 19 degrees Celsius.
“Food in bulk on the counter was not protected from contamination; stands lacked adequate water supply. The exact trade name and address of the manufacturer has not been provided. The SVS prohibited on-the-spot selling all 130 kilograms of meat products. In addition, 30 kilograms of sausages were ordered to be liquidated at the operator’s expense,” Majer said.
According to veterinarians, it is possible to impose a fine of up to 50 million CZK for violating the Food Act, but it is usually much lower.
Checks will continue until the end of the season. Last year in Prague, veterinary inspectors checked 17 farmers markets with 70 inspections, and a similar number should take place this year.
The State Veterinary Administration is a public administration body under the Czech Agriculture Ministry. Its purpose is primarily protecting consumers from products of animal origin likely to be harmful to human health, monitoring animal health situations and keeping them favorable, veterinary protection in Czech Republic, animal welfare and animal protection.