Organic food is still a luxury for most Czechs and although forty percent of people say they buy organic food items occasionally, organic products still make up only one percent of overall food sales. Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka blames the high mark-ups that supermarkets slap on “bio” products as they are known in the Czech Republic.
As of December 13th 2014 new food allergy labelling legislation went into force across the EU. It requires food businesses to provide allergy information on pre-packaged foods as well as food sold unpackaged, for example in restaurants, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. While the change for food producers has been fairly straightforward, albeit expensive, many restaurant owners are still looking for the least obtrusive way of providing this information to clients.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority has issued a warning to consumers to avoid a children's porridge by German bio producer Alnatura, which was found to have traces of atropine - a naturally-occurring tropane alkaloid which is toxic at high levels. The inspection authority ordered all of the goods in question be removed from store shelves; Alnatura preventively pulled all of its children's line containing millet, a spokeswoman for the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority said.The product is sold at DM drugstores in the Czech Republic.
Poland's Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki has made clear he considers a recent dispute with the Czech Republic over allegedly tougher Czech controls of food products imported from his country a closed matter and will not turn to the European Commission over the issue. Speaking to journalists in Brussels on Monday, he said that European legislation and rules of the single market should be a basis for solving similar problems in the future. Mr Sawicki and Czech counterpart Marian Jurečka came to an agreement on the matter on Monday morning. Last week, the minister expressed anger over a regulation that allegedly demanded stricter controls by Czechs of food products from Poland than of food products from other countries. The Czech side denied any discrimination.
As of December 13 new EU legislation will require food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, for example in catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. There are also changes to legislation with respect to labelling allergenic ingredients in prepacked foods. The changes include a minimum font size for mandatory information, which is 1,2mm.
The Czech minister of agriculture, Marián Jurečka, has rejected a claim by his Polish counterpart, that the Czech food inspection authority targeted food imports from Poland. In a letter to Polish Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki, Mr Jurečka argued that food from other countries had been subject to inspections more frequently that food from Poland; however, a chart provided to the media shows that after food produced in the Czech Republic, Polish foodstuffs were most frequently inspected, followed by food imported from Germany and Spain.
The Czech-Polish food war which dates back to 2012 flared up anew on Monday as the Polish agriculture minister Marek Sawicki accused the Czech authorities of employing dishonest practices aimed at hurting Polish imports. He claimed that the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority had ordered a blanket nation-wide inspection targeting exclusively Polish goods and said his country would complain to the European Commission over discrimination of Polish products.
Last week, the governments of EU countries, including the Czech Republic, unanimously approved a new law to cut down the number of plastic bags by 80 percent within the next ten years, with the aim to curb litter on land and in seas. A small non-profit organisation in Prague, called Bezobalu or Unpackaged, is already doing its share in the fight against excessive use of plastic. The group has recently opened a shop in the centre of Prague, where you can only buy unpackaged goods and take them home in your own containers.
Over 170 tonnes of food was donated to Czech charities and NGOs in the second national food collection that took place over the weekend. Individuals, supermarket chains and food producers all chipped in to provide some 350,000 meals for those in need. Organizers consider the food drive’s second edition a major success, and say that a recent change in tax rules will prompt companies to donate more food in the future. I discussed the results of the national food collection with Pavlína Kalousová, the head of Business for Society, a corporate responsibility platform