During their usual winter inspections, officials from the National Food Chain Safety Office found rancid walnuts and poppy seeds for human consumption that contained more morphine than allowed by the relevant regulations. Most of the irregularities elicited just a written warning. The nationwide nspections resulted in 3,312 tests, 117 warnings, 14 business activity limitations, and 125 fines amounting to a total of HUF 8,065,154.

As before, the coordinated nationwide inspection from 1 to 31 December 2018 had been ordered by Róbert Zsigó, Minister of State in charge of food chain supervision. It was carried out in all major areas of the food chain by officers from the National Food Chain Safety Office (NFCSO) and county government offices.

The wide-ranging tests covered foods and beverages that are popular during the Christmas period, including wines and champagnes, candy, as well as meat and fish, including smoked meat and frankfurters. The auditors visited 471 food production sites, 2,079 food shops, and 762 catering units in all.

Even though the number of tests almost equalled that of the previous year, the number of sanctioned cases rose overall. The main reason was that the number of written warnings issued for less serious irregularities almost doubled, to 117. Fewer fines were levied (125), so their total (HUF 8,065,154) stayed below the previous year’s amount. Business activities had to be limited on 14 occasions.

More than 17,500 food items were examined. The irregularities uncovered were similar to the previous year’s, but their number increased. Most of them were related to hygiene (4.2%), product quality and composition (3%), follow-up (1.8%), as well as to the training and health of staff (1.7%).

The number of food products withdrawn from circulation went up as well, to 425 (2.4%). Within this, there were many stale candies and other sweets sold on Christmas markets. None of the sausages, wines and champagnes examined had to be withdrawn from circulation.

The NFCSO experts paid special attention to the mulled wines, brandies and other alcoholic drinks sold at Budapest Christmas fairs. All of the 336 tested products contained the advertised amount of alcohol. In general, merchants selling alcoholic beverages at fairs were found to be legally compliant and striving to provide high-quality products.

About 80 samples were delivered to the labs of the NFCSO. Tasting revealed that two walnut products were unsuitable for human consumption, and lab tests for alkaloids indicated that two poppy seed products contained more morphine than permitted. The authority launched procedures in these cases.

(Press Office of the Ministry of Agriculture)