Food and product safety board staff shortages threaten public health


The Dutch food and product safety board NVWA has a major shortage of staff and this is threatening safety standards, according to a report by Deloitte for the farm ministry.

The report says the agency fails in its remit for 100 of the 152 areas which it is supposed to regulate, and that this means the Netherlands is no longer meeting EU standards.

The NVWA monitors food and food products for contamination and dangerous substances, in particular bacteria in meat and dairy products and illegal pesticides in vegetables and fruit. It is also supposed to control products for the presence of gluten and peanuts, but has little time to do this properly, the report said.

In addition, manure licences are also not being properly controlled, and there are few checks on whether farmers are committing fraud.

The agency also carries out few checks on animal health, increasing the risk of an outbreak of disease, the Deloitte report said. It also points out that countries which import Dutch livestock and products have alerted the agency to the shortcomings but that these have not been addressed.

Baby products and children’s toys are also not being checked thoroughly, the report said.

Schouten told MPs in a briefing that there have been improvements in the way the NVWA functions and said she is making more money available to tackle the main issues.

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