In a meeting in Prague on Monday, the Czech and Polish agriculture ministers addressed a long-running dispute over the quality of Polish food imports to the Czech Republic. In what may prove to be the first step to defusing the row, the Czech agriculture minister, Petr Bendl, and his Polish counterpart, Stanisław Kalemba, have agreed to boost cooperation and to improve the exchange of information between their food inspection agencies.
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech police has launched investigation of IT contracts at the Agriculture Ministry. The police have moved on the basis of a criminal complaint, filed by the country’s Supreme Auditing Office earlier this year. The auditors say that between 2005 and 2011, the ministry spent around one billion crowns on technologies and equipment it did not need, and bought them without a tender as required by law.
This week in Business News: The construction sector in the Czech Republic is expected to restart growth in 2014; Škoda Yeti was voted the most popular car by British car owners; ČEZ has asked two remaining contenders in the Temelín expansion deal to submit better offers; Economic confidence is down in April, after two straight months of improvement; The Federation of Food and Drink Industries wants to introduce stricter rules on product labeling; Trade unions and employers reach no agreement on minimum wage increase.
Going by the name Pivní Filosof, or the Beer Philosopher, Max Bahnson blogs in English and Spanish about all aspects of Czech pivo and beer culture. The Argentinean, who has little time for those who look down on popular, mass-produced brews, has written a guide to Prague’s pubs and is currently working on a second book.
The Czech Republic’s self-sufficiency in pork last year dropped below 50 percent, the country’s Agrarian Chamber said on Wednesday. After a temporary rise, the numbers of pigs bred in the Czech Republic registered a further decrease at the beginning of this year, the chamber said. The producers blame the trend on the high prices of fodder, mainly soya and wheat, which are not reflected in prices of pigs offered by meat processing companies. Another reason behind the dropping numbers of pigs is the fact that consumers tend to prefer cheaper imported meat over more expensive meat produced in the Czech Republic.
A friend of my wife’s once said the good about the Czech Republic is that wherever you go from here, the food is always better. That’s probably no longer true, if it ever was, but Czechs have certainly had a tough time adapting the often appalling communist-era fare into a modern cuisine. But in some ways, such as in the quality of groceries, Czechs are still stuck in the past.
The drawn-out Czech-Polish dispute over the quality of food imports this week reached a new level after Polish officials accused the Czech authorities and media of waging a campaign aimed at hurting Polish food sales in the country. Czech officials, meanwhile, complain about poor quality of some Polish foodstuffs, and say inspections prove they fail to meet set standards much more often that Czech products.
Poland says growing criticism regarding the quality of Polish food imports to the Czech Republic stems from competition on the market. In a statement for the media the Polish Embassy in Prague said on Monday that Polish food inspections were conducted fully in adherence with European standards and accused the Czech side of orchestrating a smear campaign against Polish goods with the intention of increasing the share of Czech food products on the home market. The embassy said this tactic could backfire since the two countries were often seen as one region and one market. The quality of Polish food imports is expected to dominate the agenda of this week’s Czech-Polish business forum.
A 56-year-old woman died from methanol poisoning in a hospital in Orlová, north Moravia on Friday. She was the 25th victim of methanol poisoning in the Moravia-Silesia Region, while over 40 people have died around the Czech Republic since the first such death last summer. The Ministry of Health imposed a ban on sales of all spirits for a two-week period in September in a bid to deal with a health crisis stemming from illegally-produced poisonous booze. Police are still warning against the consumption of old bottles of spirits and of alcohol of uncertain provenance lacking the correct stamps.
A woman was admitted to a Prague hospital with methanol poisoning on Friday, a spokesman for the facility said, the second such case registered in the Czech Republic this week. Some 40 people have died in the country since the outbreak of the methanol crisis last September. The police have meanwhile charged another five people for selling bootleg liquor on the black market. The country’s chief hygiene officer has again warned against drinking alcohol from unknown sources.
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