Agriculture Ministry highlighting food quality and consumers' rights

This week, the Agriculture Ministry, Food Chamber, and food quality control bodies are holding various seminars and conferences for the general public. What have been titled "Food Safety Days" will run until Sunday and their main aim is to educate consumers about the country's food quality monitoring system and about their rights.

How safe are Czech foodstuffs and how are the consumer's rights to quality food observed in the Czech Republic? The director of the Czech Food Chamber, Miroslav Koberna, views the situation quite positively. The main problems that food control bodies are battling are international, such as mad cow disease and bird flu.

"I don't know about cases in which consumers have been damaged by retailers. Control bodies have been so responsible that it is practically impossible to buy dangerous foodstuffs on the market. But we do have problems that are imported from abroad."

Over a dozen people have died in recent years from the dangerous listeria bacteria found in many dairy products. The health ministry has compiled a report on causes and prevention, which it is expected to make public this week. Dr Josef Balga is from the ministry of agriculture:

"Our food safety days offer information covering the entire food production chain from the farm to the consumer and our goal is to make the general public familiar with the problems of food safety information based on research in the fields of foodstuffs, nutrition, and hygiene."

Food Chamber director Mr Koberna also blames the media for often giving consumers false information:

"I think that the media often have wrong information because they take it from various other sources and so on. There is only one solution to this problem - to make it clear to the people and to cooperate with the media very closely."

The "Food Safety Days" will also focus on children. Schools will inform students about healthy eating habits, as today's younger generation moves less and gains more weight. On Saturday, agriculture minister Petr Gandalovic will combine education with entertainment; nursery school children will be given a tour of Prague Zoo and a brief introduction to the food chain.