A lawmaker criticized the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety for its crude inspection during the parliament’s audit for the agency.
Rep. Jang Jeong-sook of the ruling Democratic Party said she analyzed various cases where the ministry’s loose audit has harmed the public.
According to Jang, one of the most disastrous events this year happened on Sept. 5, when more than 2,200 school students came down with food poisoning after they ate a chocolate cake that a small food maker company named W1F&B supplied to Pulmuone Foodmerce.
The health authorities banned the sales and distribution of the chocolate cake, a day after the incident.
Five days later, a ministry investigation team revealed that the egg white used in the cake had salmonella, a bacterium that can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
“However, it was later revealed that the W1F&B had received Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, which is a systematic preventive measure to food safety, from the agency,” Jang said. “The certification report showed that Ganong Bio, the supplier of the egg whites, had received almost a perfect HACCP score for five consecutive years, while W1F&B had also received a score of 90 out of a 100 last year.”
In contrast to the high score, when the ministry conducted an audit after the food poisoning fiasco both companies fell short of receiving the HACCP certification, she added.
“Although the ministry tried to contain the situation by recalling all the products, it was after consumers ate most of the tainted cakes and products,” Jang stressed. “Such an incident has caused the HACCP’s reliability to hit rock bottom.”
Another incident highlighted by Jang was the recent report about the reuse of food in a seafood buffet restaurant.
“Although the restaurant admitted that they reused their food and the local regulators issued a corrective order, the fact that the restaurant had received top grades for sanitary for eight consecutive years’ shows that the agency did not conduct a thorough investigation,” Jang said. “The results of the evaluation of these sites are evidence that the sanitary condition check and evaluation are formal, not practical.”
It also revealed that after the sanitary grade is designated, there is no follow-up management for certified restaurants, she added.
The lawmaker noted that the quality and safety of food that directly affects the health of the people cannot be overemphasized and that the ministry should do its best to improve the lash system that has lost confidence from the public.
Regarding sanitary, she stressed that the assessment and grading system for food retailers was virtually unexploited due to inadequate management supervision by the ministry and called for the agency to immediately prepare measures to enhance the effectiveness of sanitary evaluation by conducting random emergency inspections.
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