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Swiss authorities accused of being too lax about food hygiene

Swiss authorities accused of being too lax about food hygiene

Swiss cantons have been accused of being too lax when it comes to issues of food hygiene at food manufacturing companies. The Swiss Federal Audit Office claims that the checks carried out by the authorities are not doing enough to protect consumers in Switzerland. 

40.000 food checks carried out each year in Switzerland

According to SRF, cantonal laboratories and authorities carry out more than 40.000 checks on food production companies throughout the year. The Federal Audit Office argues that these checks are not enough to prevent incidents of illness and poisoning from improperly prepared food. 

In August 2020, 10 people died from listeria-contaminated cheese produced by a Swiss cheese factory in Canton Schwyz. Though such incidents are rare in Switzerland, the authorities are required to investigate how these scenarios are able to occur and how to prevent them in the future. 

Most Swiss food companies should be checked every two years

According to regulations set by the Swiss government, food companies should be inspected every two years. Though there are no figures available for each canton, the Federal Audit Office states that each inspector should visit 200 companies a year. 

However, currently, there are 400 companies for each inspector in Neuchâtel, Solothurn and Basel-Stadt and 1.000 companies for each inspector in Swiss cities such as Bern and Zug. This shows that there is a high chance that companies are not being assessed regularly enough. 

At the moment, many companies are not being inspected according to the law’s requirements. According to SRF, catering companies are inspected on average every eight years, rather than every two and farm shops wait even longer - on average, 13 years pass by between each inspection. It is now down to the cantons to decide how to respond to the Audit Office’s accusations. 

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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