EU criticises Ukrainian control body: "Culture of leniency"
by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)
This June, the EU Directorate General for Health and Food Safety inspected an inspection body operating in Ukraine. The audit report now published confirms the progress made by the inspection body, but accuses it of a "culture of leniency" in the event of infringements.
Deficits in two areas
The control body had already been audited by the EU in 2015 and had been presented with a long list of shortcomings. The new audit confirms to the control body that much has improved since then and states that the company has grown significantly in the last three years. The auditors see deficits in two areas: the estimation of harvest quantities and the punishment of infringements.
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The report states that even in the case of serious breaches of the rules, the next scheduled inspection will check whether the breach has been rectified. Pesticide residue findings did not lead to on-site follow-up checks, but the company was requested to investigate the residue finding and report on the measures it had taken. The auditors describe this as a "systematic error". They said that the inspection body did not sufficiently understand the importance of a follow-up inspection on the spot. The inspectors had argued to the auditors that the burden had not been established until six months after the harvest and nothing could be found on the spot.
Inconsistent procedure in the event of incorrect separation and labelling of goods in mixed operations
In order to prove their accusation of a "culture of leniency", the auditors mention a mixed farm which has been certified by the inspection body since 2009 and where considerable deficits in the separation and labelling of organic and conventional goods have been identified several times without the inspection body having drawn any consequences. It also mentions the action taken against farms that use conventionally dressed seed. Only with the third offence the enterprise is decertified. The auditors write that this is not exactly a deterrent.
Reaction of the Ukrainian control body
In a response to this article the control body rejects the reproach of acting in a “culture of leniency”. According to conclusions of auditors: the CB had taken measures to address the recommendations in the previous audit report. Overall, the CB is very active in relation to sampling and undertaking additional unannounced control of operators, significantly surpassing the minimum requirements. It fulfils its obligations relating to the guidelines on additional controls on products originating from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation, destined for export to the EU. The investigations of notifications from the Organic Farming Information System were undertaken in a satisfactory manner. Most of the recommendations of the auditor's last audit have been implemented already.