At the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), the number of reports of contaminated food has tripled in the last three years. The food watchdog suspects that companies are afraid of a damaged image and therefore turn to the NVWA faster, says microbiologist Coen van der Weijden on Saturday in conversation with the AD.
In 2015, around a thousand reports were received about pathogenic bacteria such as listeria and salmonella. In the past year that number rose to around 3200 reports, while the NVWA expects the increase to continue this year.
Van der Weijden emphasizes that food quality within the Netherlands has not deteriorated. "In recent years there has only been extra attention for checks and that is reflected in the results."
'Public assessments for slaughterhouses contribute to an increase in reports'
Since 2018, assessments of slaughterhouses have been made public. According to Van der Weijden, the NVWA spends half of its capacity on controlling the slaughterhouses, which subsequently gives companies an additional reason to guarantee food safety indoors. "Otherwise they are hung on the virtual pillory and run the risk of losing customers."
For example, meat products manufacturer Offerman came up with a profit warning in October, after a listeria infection had come to light in the Aalsmeer factory. The bacterium is said to have cost the lives of three people and caused a miscarriage. The factory remains closed until the NVWA has approved the production location again.
According to Van der Weijden, the meat manufacturer has had bad luck. "Such a check remains a snapshot. Your side doesn't check everything. Probably they couldn't have prevented it."
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