The Dutch food and product safety board NVWA’s annual report shows a 30% increase in fines doled out to manufacturers and companies. Most of the fines, some 4,800, were handed out because of food safety concerns but also for potentially dangerous consumer goods, such as defective phone chargers.
‘Some mobile phone chargers can catch fire and that poses a risk to consumer safety,’ inspector-general Rob van Lint told public broadcaster NOS.
Van Lint said the number of fines had gone up because of a policy change: non-compliance after a warning is no longer followed by another warning but by a fine.
The NVWA is striving for more transparency about inspection results where legally possible. It has already published findings concerning bars and restaurants in the big cities, fish auctions and the safety of consumer products.
According to the annual report’s figures inspectors reported 76 cases of aggressive behaviour last year, 20 of which were serious enough to merit police involvement. The number is down on 2016 but, according to Van Lint, it is not the number but the seriousness of the incidents that counts.
‘Recently inspectors at work at an animal transport company were pushed and punched,’ Van Lint told NOS. ‘An inspection of a fishing vessel ended with inspectors in the water where they could have drowned. Other inspectors investigating possible fraud involving manure received death threats.’
The NVWA was much criticised for its role in the fipronil scandal when traces of the chemical were found in eggs. Farmers blame the organisation for not acting sooner. Investigations into the NVWA’s role are ongoing, NOS said.