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ISSN: 2157-2526
Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense
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Food Safety in the Czech Republic

Hana Stritecka*, Pavol Hlubik and Lucie Dohnalova

University of Defence, Faculty of Military Health Sciences, Department of Military Hygiene, Trebesska 1575, 50001Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic

*Corresponding Author:
Hana Stritecka, Ph.D
University of Defence, Faculty of Military Health Sciences
Department of Military Hygiene, Trebesska 1575
50001Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic
Tel: +420-973-253 055
Fax: +420-973-253-273
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: April 13, 2012; Accepted Date: May 03, 2012; Published Date: May 08, 2012

Citation: Stritecka H, Hlubik P, Dohnalova L (2012) Food Safety in the Czech Republic. J Bioterr Biodef S2:006. doi: 10.4172/2157-2526.S2-006

Copyright: © 2012 Stritecka H, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Abstract

Food Safety can be understood from many points of views: from the State\'s obligation to create a legal environment for the production, import and inspection of health safety food to the contents of the individual, even exceeding the legally laid limits or added substances in food. While the first aspect is given by law and therefore is easily controllable, the second is more subjective, poorly clearly verifiable and is part of continuing discussions, both professional and lay public.If the all requirements for the production, distribution and sale are fulfil in accordance to legislative, food in market can be considered such as health and safety food.
 
From 1st May 2004 The Czech Republic became an equal member of the European Union which has led to the adoption of all rules of this Community. One of the basic obligations enshrined in the Treaty establishing the European Community is to guarantee a high level of health protection and strengthen consumer protection.

Introduction

Food Safety can be understood from many points of views: from the State's obligation to create a legal environment for the production, import and inspection of health safety food to the contents of the individual, even exceeding the legally laid limits or added substances in food. While the first aspect is given by law and therefore is easily controllable, the second is more subjective, poorly clearly verifiable and is part of continuing discussions, both professional and lay public.If the all requirements for the production, distribution and sale are fulfil in accordance to legislative, food in market can be considered such as health and safety food [1].

From 1st May 2004 The Czech Republic became an equal member of the European Union which has led to the adoption of all rules of this Community. One of the basic obligations enshrined in the Treaty establishing the European Community is to guarantee a high level of health protection and strengthen consumer protection [2].

Food Safety Policy

Food safety policy works with the principle of risk analysis, including three inter connected components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.

Risk assessment is based on data collected by regular long-term monitoring, even in the routine control activities throughout the chain from primary production to final food consumption. Monitoring of food safety includes monitoring and assessing the natural occurrence of undesirable or harmful substances and microorganisms, contamination of food, feed and raw materials for their production and finally monitoring of environmental components which can contaminate food and feed (soil, air and water) and their entering the food chain [3].

For the generating of primary data and subsequent assessment of the risks are involved vocational institutes across the Czech Republic, as well as national supervisory authorities and universities. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was set up in January 2002, following a series of food crises in the late 1990s, as an independent source of scientific advice and communication on risks associated with the food chain [2]. EFSA was created as part of a comprehensive programme to improve EU food safety, ensure a high level of consumer protection and restore and maintain confidence in the EU food supply.

Upon its creation, EFSA’s initial priority was to put in place the necessary scientific infrastructure to enable it to deliver scientific opinions and advice in response to the requests it received. To ensure the high quality of its work, EFSA has developed guidance on methodologies for the risk assessment and the risk monitoring it undertakes. As laid down in its Founding Regulation, EFSA can initiate its own work (self-mandate). The strategic relationship of EFSA with the national food safety organisations is explicitly recognised in its Founding Regulation. Through the Advisory Forum, EFSA has established the foundation for its cooperation activities with the national food safety risk assessment and food research organisations throughout Europe.

Other EFSA´s goals are provide independent scientific advice and clear communication on existing and emerging risks in EU legislation in the areas of food and feed safety, providing public access to objective information and among other things, creates European network of scientific institutions [4,5].

Food Safety System in the Czech Republic

The largest volume of activities in issues of food safety in the Czech Republic has been provided by the organisations within the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health. Further important partners are except government offices representatives of supervisory organisations, scientific committees and panels, and consumer organisations that mean members of the inter-ministerial Food Safety Coordination Unit which was established in 2002 in conformity with the Strategy to Assure Food Safety in the Czech Republic. The objective is primarily to co-ordinate the activities of individual ministries and to establish priorities, to ensure mutual co-operation between relevant competent authorities performing official control, Scientific Committees, consumers and state administration, and to establish co-operation with national food safety institutions in EU Member States and with the EFSA [2,3,6,7].

The Czech Scientific Committees carry out in relation to public authorities the function of scientific advisory committees and ensure consistency of risk assessment with communication, i.e. they present to the professional and consumer public verified and understandable information. The Scientific Committees are made up of groups of experts, addressing the following framework tasks in the field of food safety: The preparation and publication of independent analysis and opinions, proposals for measures to ensure food safety throughout the chain of production and assessment of guidelines for research and development in the subject area [3,8].

The following scientific committee works within the authority the Ministry of Health: the Scientific Committee for Food. The following four scientific committees work within the authority the Ministry of Agriculture: the Scientific Veterinary Committee, the Scientific Committee for Animal Nutrition, the Scientific Committee for Phytosanitary and the Environment and the Scientific Committee for Genetically Modified Food and Feed [3]. Each resort performs its tasks under its jurisdiction, and the individual departments work together in ensuring the food safety. Activities provided by the relevant departments [8].

The next step is risk management which mainly represents the creation and putting into practice the relevant legislation and implementation of state supervision (official control). Official controls in the entire food and feed chain from primary production up to sale to a consumer are performed by the competent authorities. The supervisory bodies within their remit also perform supervision of compliance with obligations of food business operators stipulated in the directly applicable European Commission (EC) legislation. The basic legislation in the field of performance of official controls in the CR is Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official control performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules, which apart from other things imposes upon the Member States the obligation to create adequate conditions for the ensurance of official controls, elaboration of national food and feed control plans, development of contingency plans, it specifies the content of training and education of employees, the conduct of internal audits and a number of other obligations [2,9].

The basic legislative frame work in Czech Republic is Act No.110/1997Coll.on food stuffs and tobacco products, as amended [10]. Supervision of compliance with established rules and obligations in Czech Republic are provided: The State Veterinary Administration of the CR (veterinary administration bodies) performs state supervision of the production, storage, transport, import and export of raw materials and food of animal origin, when raw materials and food of animal origin are offered for sale in market halls and market places, when food of animal origin is offered for sale in stores and shop-in-shops where meat, milk, fish, poultry and eggs are treated or game meat is offered for sale, and in food stores, in the event they are the place of destination for the raw materials or food of animal origin coming from an EU Member State. Next institution providing state supervision is The Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture performs state supervision of carcass classification and The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority performs state supervision of the production of food and it´s placing on the market, where it is not conducted by veterinary administrative bodies, of reporting stocks, at the point of entry of food and raw materials of plant origin from third countries in the Czech Republic. The last institutions Regional Public Health Authorities perform state supervision of the provision of catering services and in order to identify the causes of damages or risks to health and to prevent food borne diseases and other food borne incidents. They are also responsible for the control of materials and articles intended to come into contact with food [3,10,11].

Risk communication is the last step of risk assessment. This idea is related with mutual information exchange (including the results of risk assessment and bases for decision making in risk management) between risk assessors, risk managers, consumers, feed and food companies, academia and other interested parties.

The Strategy to Assure Food Safety in the Czech Republic is thus determined the following key requirements: to complete harmonisation with EU legislation, to ensure a co-ordination of activities of central state authorities and competent authorities performing official control, to optimise the network of laboratories, scientific committees, to ensure intensive communication with consumers, development of a RASFF system and co-operation and co-ordination of activities with the EFSA [3].

The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

In 1978 The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) in Western Europe area was created for the transfer of information on unsafe food and feed. RASFF is currently interconnected network which connects members of the European Union (EU) with European Commission (EC), EFSA and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The main objective of this system is to prevent harmful health threat to consumers from food and indirectly feed. RASFF is used in two-way communication between network members. The RASFF is not available for communication with the consumer public. The duty of every member of the system is in case of the presence of substandard food, feed or articles of common use in food contact immediately in form the other members of the system [12].

The Czech Republic became a member of the RASFF automatically after enter to the European Union in 2004 and the national contact point for information transfer between members of the domestic system was established at the State Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority in Brno. RASFF has been all-effective since 1 march 2005. Network members are the supervisor authorities and other departments involved in food safety. In Czech Republic the ordinary consumers may obtain information about RASFF system from the Ministry of Health website or from specialized websites. One of them is The Ministry of Agriculture‘s Food Safety Information Centre designed primarily as a communication centre in relation to the public. Its goal is to make the general public familiar with the problems of food safety in the form of topical news, warnings against risks, information on the results of research in the field of food stuffs, nutrition, food technologies, hygiene, etc. [13,14].

ISO 22000

All types of food chain organizations which would like to eliminate the possible maximum error are determined by international standard ISO 22000 [15]. Food safety management system is designed to all the articles of the food chain - from growers and producers of feed and food, to food processors, distributors to the catering service. The system is also intended for all organizations involved in indirect way into the food chain and can affect the quality and food safety as well- food processing machinery and equipment producers, food packaging, various accessories to food, carriers, warehouse operators etc. The international standard ISO 22000: 2005 (ISO 22000:2006), based on international standards ISO 9001, defines the requirements for the introduction of food safety management system. Food Safety Management System specifies the requirements to ensure compliance with food safety and animal feed. In a systems approach beyond the ISO 22000 is system of critical points in the food industry (HACCP). The correct application of the HACCP system can greatly assist eliminate bad practice maximum in the food chain. Requirements for food safety management system can be divided into main three parts: good manufacturing practice requirements and the necessary basic requirements, HACCP principles issued by the Codex Alimentar us and requirements of management system [16,17].

Good hygiene practice means the right observance of all covered health requirements, implementation of hygiene rules and obligations in the process of food production and its marketing. Ministry of Agriculture publishes the rules of good hygiene practice for individual commodities in the Bulletin of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic and Czech technical standard. In this section you can find a list of valid guides of good manufacturing and hygiene practice and, if they are not prepared by the Czech state standards, as well as their text. Using these manuals for food business operators is voluntary [18,19].

Hazards Analysis Critical Control Points

HACCP is the system of preventive measures (Hazards Analysis Critical Control Points).The HACCP system is used to ensure food safety and food during all activities related to their production such as processing, storage, handling, transport and sale to final consumers [17]. It lies rather in the anticipation and prevention of biological, chemical and physical risks than in the control of finished products. For each type of food or product according to the method of production is determined by where is the greatest risk of breaching health and in which steps of manufacture. In these operations the critical control point must be determined. Further what variables will be monitored and what values should be reached. Critical points are set and monitored based on the Critical points plan. An important part of the plan is to implement the critical points in the hazard analysis. It means to describe the various health risks in the individual process steps and control measures which will prevent their occurrence. The aim of HACCP is to ensure control over the entire production process, it means of raw materials, the environment but also the workers who are involved in the production. Each manufacture process is different (spatial arrangement, products, plant equipment, employees, etc.). It is therefore not possible to develop a universal guide system of critical points for all kind of manufactures. Critical control points must always be tailored to the particular conditions of operation [20,21].

Codex Alimentarius

Codex Alimentarius (CA) according to a translation from the Latin “food rules” and contains a number of general and specific standards for food safety what have been formulated to protect the health of consumers and ensure good practices in food trade. In the 60´sondevelopment of CA cooperated two United Nations organizations: Organization for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) [22]. Although the standards adopted by the Code have no legal force, they are recognized and used because they were compiled on the basis of scientific knowledge. In many cases the World Trade Organization (WTO) refers to Codex standards in international disputes relating to food and food products. National and regional laws and standards are used in most cases as a starting point just Codex standard. Influence of the Code extends to virtually every continent and its contribution to protecting human health and ensuring good practice in the food trade is great [23,24].

Conclusion

In conclusion, the food quality and food safety is a very hot topic nowadays, especially in a constantly evolving global economy. Potential faults can lead to fatal consequences not only for trade or production organization (financial, moral) but also for many residents as well. In terms of food, the risk (safety) reflects potential impact on consumer health. Potential hazards in food are presented by pathogenic microorganisms, chemical contaminants (e.g. Cleaning of production equipment) or solid objects (such as glass shards). Despite all arrangement taken to minimize this danger are not the food safety and harmless absolute and failure may occur. Determination of risk is a structured approach to identifying possible risks and to evaluate factors that may affect these risks in a positive or negative sense.

In a long-term perspective the Food Safety and Nutrition Strategy, the Czech autorities (EU too) seek to strengthen the protection and promotion of health as well as the legitimate consumers’ interests. As crucial areas of interest the Strategy recognizes further strengthening of collaboration with the European Food Safety Authority, communication and education of consumers as well as state administration staff.

Acknowledgements

Supported by “A long-term organization development plan 1011”.

References

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