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Thursday, April 24, 2014
News Making Money

Written by Madona Gasanova, The FINANCIAL

18/11/2012 22:21 (521 Day 18:21 minutes ago)

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The FINANCIAL -- Certain products of daily food producers in Georgia contain coliform bacteria which can be dangerous for the health, a laboratory study by a local NGO showed.

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The FINANCIAL -- Certain products of daily food producers in Georgia contain coliform bacteria which can be dangerous for the health, a laboratory study by a local NGO showed. Momxmarebeli.ge - an organisation focused on the protection of consumer rights, showed that various products offered by leading retailers including Careffour, Ioli, Lider-food, Vake, Nikora, Pasanauri and some others contain coliform bacteria which can cause Hepatitis A and E, Ascaris, enterovirus infections, Lambliasis, Typhus Abdominalis, Shigellosis and cholera.

The Georgian National Food Agency (NFA) has fined over 50 enterprises in 2012 that broke food safety standards in the country. The average fine amount per single business operator consists of GEL 1,000 (USD 600). This is the price that retailers have to pay for risking people’s health.

NFA said under the current code it regularly runs state control of business entrepreneurs. That includes regular and unscheduled inspections, supervision, monitoring, specimen collection and documentary examination.

A momxmarebeli.ge representative said that the Agency has no real power and can’t properly execute its duties.

The major problems with food safety are in high-risk foods such as meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, and baby food. The polluted food can cause toxic infection in a person. That being said, however, any type of food product is at risk of becoming harmful if the company, distributor or salesperson does not protect and conform to the conditions of production, storage and sale of food.

Nikora JSC, Vake LTD, Carrefour and other leading food producing companies in Georgia refuted the allegations and said that after second analyses done on their products they did not find any harmful features. Meanwhile, Lia Todua, Director of the website momxmarebeli.ge, owned by the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG) which ran the study, said that she plans to sue companies that break the law. “This is criminal. We were afraid of attack. That is why we did not sue before,” Todua told The FINANCIAL.

The companies listed as the sellers of unhealthy products are flooding the website of momxmarebeli.ge with comments, as a result the website’s administrators have been forced to ban certain users, considering their actions to be on a par with spam activity.

Todua said that during a second analysis the products of food company Nikora did satisfy norms. But products offered by Vake still contained unhealthy bacteria, a second analysis showed.   

“We did a double check of Khinkali Mtiuluri at LTD Cito 2. The result did not reveal any coli bacteria. We cooperated with LTD Future World, where we have had bacteriologic analyses of our products done from time to time. We also cooperate with Cito 2. We recently did additional sanitary works,” said Tamaz Mezurnishvili, Main Technologist at meat producing company Vake.  

The website momxmarebeli.ge is financed by Open Society Georgia, Eurasia Partnership Fund, Church Development Agency and the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation and Development.

There is not a single case of a customer suing a retailer for selling an unhealthy product. Customers are simply not investigating what might have damaged their health.

“After the research of CSRDG, the company’s Quality Management Department did a double check of the products. The results verified that our products fully comply with microbiological performance standards,” said Nona Dzneladze, Director of Marketing at Nikora JSC.

Dzneladze mentions that the microbiological laboratory of the enterprise Nikora is one of the best in Georgia. “We have all the modern technologies that are necessary for producing products of international standards here,” she said. 

“Nikora product quality is strictly controlled at each stage of production,” Dzneladze said.

State control on food products in Georgia has been carried out since 2010. The National Food Agency aims to protect the rights of consumers to be informed about each and every violation. The Agency works with non-governmental organizations working in the field of food safety. At the same time, the Agency is focused on the protection of business entrepreneurs’ interests.

“There are different types of penalties for the various violations, regulated by law. For example, if it turns out that a company has ‘critical irrelevance’, which means that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the factory-produced food may be harmful to human health, the enterprise must interrupt the manufacturing process, otherwise be guilty of critical non-compliance. In such an event business operators will be fined GEL 1,000. If a laboratory analysis establishes that food is harmful, the business is obligated to remove and destroy the whole amount of the food under the supervision of an authorized officer,” an NFA official revealed.

 

 

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