Inspectors report increase in food safety violations
Newly-released health ministry data shows a marked increase in mandated closures of Czech food establishments by health and safety inspectors. During 2015, 259 restaurants and other food establishments were ordered closed across the county for various hygiene-related violations.
“The main violations related to operational safety, for example permitting clean and unclean items to mix; also shortcomings in sanitation procedures, poor cleaning routines, and equipment in poor condition.”
In total, CZK 13 million in fines were levied for unhygienic conduct spanning around 4,500 violations. In 919 specific cases, establishments were ordered to immediately address food safety shortcomings. Mandated closures were up by 105 in comparison to 2014.
“The most typical infringement we came across was giving short measures (or portions). But I would say these were largely minor breaches. More serious is when we found that establishments were trying to charge a so-called service fee. Restaurants, especially in Prague, charging customers a service fee without informing them of this in advance.”
Three different agencies, namely the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (ČOI), the agriculture ministry’s Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority, and health ministry hygienists, monitor the conduct of food establishments in the country. Jana Hilmarová explained to me their respective roles.
The highest fine levied by the ČOI in 2015 went to a Prague café, which was forced to pay CZK 60,000 for both deceptive pricing practices and for deception regarding portion sizes.