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These products are most often questioned by IJHARS

Te produkty są najczęściej kwestionowane przez IJHARS
  • Data for the previous year show that IJHARS carried out a total of 82,268 inspection activities. In 2022, there were over 87.8 thousand of them.
  • At that time, the IJHARS authorities carried out 1,531 ad hoc inspections, including 223 ad hoc inspections ordered by the Chief Inspector or voivodeship inspectors to consider consumer signals, 380 ad hoc inspections commissioned by the GI, 928 ad hoc inspections commissioned by voivodeship inspectors.

– If we are talking about inspection in retail, i.e. in all types of stores, we check the traceability of the product, i.e. whether the consumer is really buying what he wants. Of course, shelf life, storage conditions, and product origin are checked – in the case of several product groups, this is also mandatory information for the customer. From last year's inspection, 16 percent products, we found irregularities regarding organoleptic characteristics and physicochemical parameters, while in 25% cases – labeling irregularities – says Dorota Balińska-Hajduk from the Quality Control Office at the Chief Inspectorate of Commercial Quality of Agricultural and Food Products to the Newseria Biznes agency.

In a given quarter, selected product groups are inspected. For example, in the first quarter of last year, the inspections included fruit and vegetable products, poultry meat, juices and nectars.

The organoleptic characteristics of controlled agri-food products were most often questioned in the case of olive oil. Irregularities at the retail sales stage were found in 76%. audited parties, at 65.7 percent in 2022. All inspected batches showed organoleptic defects and, in some cases, an additional lack of fruit aroma, which are unacceptable for the highest category of oil and indicate a lower category.

– This means that oil labeled as "extra virgin olive oil" or in English as "extra virgin olive oil" is inconsistent with the declaration. It has disadvantages that are also specified in the regulations, explains Balińska-Hajduk.

In 2023, a frequently questioned group in terms of physico-chemical parameters were mushroom products – both dried mushrooms, where the presence of live or dead pests was very often found, mushrooms of a different species than those declared, and mushroom products such as pickles, where an incorrect net weight after drainage was found. , important for the consumer, because he buys mushrooms in vinegar, not vinegar with mushrooms. Among the physico-chemical parameters, the parameters of mushroom products were also very often questioned, even to the extent of 50%.

Breadcrumbs are also often questioned

As he points out, the frequently questioned item in 2023 was breadcrumbs. Inappropriate organoleptic parameters were found in 31%. inspected batches. They concerned inconsistent color and form as well as salty taste. Based on the laboratory tests performed, it was found that 46.3 percent the batch did not meet the declared physicochemical parameters. The irregularities concerned overestimated or underestimated sugar, fat, salt or overestimated protein content compared to that indicated on the packaging, and the presence of organic or inorganic contaminants.

Every fourth retail batch inspected was incorrectly marked, ranging from the wrong name, through incorrect date information, to the wrong country of origin – adds an expert from the Chief Inspectorate of Trade Quality of Agricultural and Food Products.

An example is the inspection of honey at producers carried out throughout the country in the fourth quarter of 2023. Out of 111 product batches inspected, the labeling of 52 batches was questioned.

Consumer awareness is growing

Poles are becoming more and more conscious consumers and choose food products with greater care. A study conducted in the summer of 2021 by Maison & Partners showed that 73% of consumers read food labels, with 56%. only occasionally. Every fifth Pole checks labels every time they add a product to their basket.

The basic information that the label should contain is:

  • food name,
  • list of ingredients,
  • any ingredients or excipients causing allergies or intolerances,
  • net quantity,
  • date of minimum durability or expiry date,
  • any special storage conditions or conditions of use,
  • name or company name and address of the entity operating on the food market,
  • nutritional information.

– I advise you to read labels carefully, check whether there is a name of the product, whether, for example, it is not just "lumberjack's bread" or "shepherd's bread", the consumer should be informed whether it is wheat or rye bread. You should also pay attention to whether there is a list of ingredients and, what is very important for consumers, whether ingredients that cause allergies or intolerance reactions are highlighted – says Dorota Balińska-Hajduk. – In the case of fruit, which we often buy by weight, the country of origin should be provided. This is a requirement in all EU countries, so I pay attention to it. Additionally, potatoes, but also, please note, meat, even those offered loose, are products where the country of origin must also be indicated. The country where the animal was bred and slaughtered must be indicated, including the country's flag.

In times of galloping inflation, the phenomenon of downsizing has become more and more noticeable to consumers, i.e. offering increasingly lighter products without changing their prices and often also the size of packaging. An example would be a stick of butter, which used to be 250 g but now increasingly weighs 200 g or less.

– We assume that the consumer is aware and reads the label when making a purchase. Of course, we check the correctness of the labeling, or rather, whether what is on the label is correct, i.e. whether it actually contains 200 g. However, we have no influence on it and no possibility of penalizing it if, for example, a carton of 200-gram muesli is larger or smaller, and there will still be 200 g – indicates the GIJHARS expert.

The second common phenomenon in recent years is skimflation , i.e. a change in the quality parameters of products, which allows to reduce its price.

The issue of changing any ingredient is actually not regulated in any way. However, the consumer must receive information about the ingredients in the product he purchases. This means there should be no information that sunflower oil has been replaced with rapeseed oil, but there should be two different labels. The consumer is the weakest link in the entire chain, he must be properly informed: the list of ingredients must correspond to the product he buys – emphasizes Balińska-Hajduk.

In early April, IJHARS established a team that focuses on combating food fraud. The aim is to detect cases of conscious food adulteration, information manipulation and misleading consumers regarding food, its ingredients and packaging. Olive oil adulteration, i.e. adding cheaper vegetable oils to olive oil, is one of the most common food frauds in the EU. Other "popular" frauds include adulteration of meat (adding cheaper species to more expensive ones), fish (substituting fish species, selling farmed fish as wild) or dairy products (adding water or milk powder to fresh milk). Abuse also applies to organic food – consumers misleading, including false certificates or incorrect product labeling.

Source: Newseria

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