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Why are industrial hygiene controls ineffective?

Maud Descamps, edited by Gauthier Delomez

The proliferation of health alerts in pizzas, chocolates and cheeses reveals flaws in the manufacture of certain industrial products. But the DGCCRF, which is responsible for monitoring, lacks the means to carry out its mission. According to one association, the control system must be reviewed.

Traces of E.coli bacteria in Buitoni Pizzas, suspected salmonella in Kinder chocolates, Graindorge brand cheeses recalled for risk of listeriosis: health alerts have followed one another in recent days in France. And faced with this multiplication of alerts, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF), which is responsible for controls, recognizes that there are not enough investigators to do their job properly. The DGCCRF has in fact lost 440 positions over the past ten years.

The failure of self-control

In some departments, there is sometimes only one agent to cover the whole area. Food controls are actually carried out by manufacturers in their own factories, what are called self-checks. But for Ingrid Kragl, of the Foodwatch association, this system is failing. “The agri-food giants seem a little taken aback. It’s quite surprising because, of course, they have taken samples, self-checks. How is it that for weeks now, we have had this slew of sick people and that they didn’t see anything happen?”, she wonders at the microphone of Europe 1.

Ingrid Kragl draws the conclusion that “clearly, the self-monitoring system does not work since he has not seen anything pass. Unfortunately, consumers are always at the end of the chain and informed too late.” The association and some elected officials are calling for greater severity, including sanctions against these manufacturers, but also the creation of a single authority responsible for food safety. This is not yet the case today: it is the Ministries of Economy and Agriculture that share the task.

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