The country’s food supply is guaranteed, the Ministry of Agriculture is in ongoing communication with actors of the food supply chain, Róbert Zsigó, Minister of State for the Supervision of the Food Supply Chain of the Ministry of Agriculture said at the Tuesday online press conference of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the coronavirus epidemic.

Mr Zsigó stressed that Hungary’s food safety system is one of the best and most stable in Europe.

Summing up the measures adopted recently, he said at the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic on the website of the National Food Chain Safety Office they had created a coronavirus sub-site providing relevant information and guidance from the authorities. The Office “is helping businesses with support inspections”, as part of which inspectors “give advice, rather than impose fines,” he said.

He highlighted that before Easter inspectors had simultaneously visited 64 randomly selected stores, meaning that all food store chains operating in Hungary were inspected. During the inspections, inspectors fundamentally focused on three areas: strict observance of personal hygiene, protection of unpackaged foodstuffs ready for consumption, and the cleaning and disinfecting of equipment. “Store chains passed the test with flying colours; stocks were satisfactory, and when shopping we have every reason to feel safe,” the Minister of State said, adding that the inspection data can be found on the Office’s website.

He said, according to the inspections, shopping trolleys and baskets are washed with daily regularity at almost all store chains, and the handles of these are disinfected usually once every shift or even more frequently. 73 per cent of stores did not provide for the availability of hand sanitiser or gloves at the entrance; however, “disposable or non-disposable tools necessary for hygienic shopping” were available on the shopping premises of all stores. In two thirds of stores, the handles of refrigerators and storage units, conveyor belts and bank card terminals are disinfected several times a day.

Mr Zsigó further reported that they had also carried out inspections at public meal providers; the inspectors of the National Food Chain Safety Office have inspected 230 establishments. Among the problems detected, he mentioned that workers did not always pay enough attention to personal hygiene and the cleanliness of food container boxes. At the same time, safe, thoroughly heat-treated dishes are on the menus of all establishments.

He highlighted that they had created the possibility for distilleries and alcohol production plants to change over to the production of disinfectants. Businesses may apply to the National Food Chain Safety Office. Mr Zsigó said on the Office’s website customers can also find important information; the latest downloadable information on shopping and kitchen hygiene has just been released. The Minister of State further mentioned that on the Office’s website they had created a producer search page where local producers can register, and as a result, potential customers can easily locate them.

(Ministry of Agriculture / MTI)