Police and customs officers have just made one of their biggest hauls of illegal bootleg liquor in recent times and broken up an organized gang that was apparently functioning for several months. The discovery in the eastern city of Ostrava could well have many Czechs taking a second look at cheap Christmas spirits bought off the back of a lorry or at market stalls.
Police and customs officers have announced one of their biggest hauls of bootleg alcohol in recent years. They swooped on a gang operating out of the eastern city of Ostrava finding a lorry filled with around 20,000 litres of spirits with another 10,000 litres in a nearby hall and garages. Seven people were detained with three remaining in custody. Customs officers say the state would have lost around 6.0 million crowns if the entire consignment of bootleg alcohol had gone on sale. A large amount of a special disinfectant used to make the alcohol was shipped across the border from Slovakia for further processing in Ostrava with it later going on sale throughout Moravia.
A police crackdown on underage drinking at the early-December holiday of Mikuláš was revealed this week to have been disconcertingly successful. The four-day raid on nearly four thousand bars and restaurants found some 600 intoxicated teens and over 400 infractions of alcohol sales to minors. The finding brings new emphasis to the government’s anti-drug and alcohol strategy, as the director of the government board for drug policy, Jindřich Vobořil, told us when he spoke to Radio Prague about the situation with earlier today.
Czech agriculture will show a profit of only around one billion crowns this year, which is the worst result since the Czech Republic's entry in the European Union in 2004, according to estimates of the Agricultural Association. In 2009, Czech farmers generated a profit of 2.6 billion. The drop in profit, which farmers will see despite higher purchasing prices, is mainly ascribed to the lower volume of government subsidies. Agricultural unions plan to block one of the motorways leading to Prague on December 8th, the day of a trade union strike in protest of low wages in the public sector. If their demand for higher subsidies is not met after the blockage, farmers say they will block all motorways to Prague on December 10.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority banned the sale on Thursday of a batch of salted pistachio nuts imported from Iran due to a high presence of aflatotoxins – naturally occurring mycotoxins often found on cereals, roots, or tree nuts. The product was uncovered at the chain store Kaufland, which has since removed the product from the shelves. The stores are offering a refund to consumers.
The Czech Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority has begun checks at wine retailers on whether a top Czech wine producer has fulfilled demands it withdraw 2009 vintage sales from store shelves. Templářské sklepy Čejkovice was given the instruction to remove more than a million litres of wine from sale after it was found to have used unknown grapes along with its own production. The wine producer has challenged the inspectorate’s moves and threatened legal action against it. The state food and drinks authority says the case could compromise its success in recent years in helping Czech wines win a better reputation for quality.
Czech politicians have welcomed suggestions from the European Commission about how to shake up its farm subsidy policy, the Common Agricultural Policy. A main plank of the proposed changes released on Thursday is for discrimination in support between old member states and new ones, such as the Czech Republic, to be abolished after 2013. The proposal includes a guarantee that farmers in all states would be paid a proportion of average EU farm support. At the moment Czech farmers say they get around a third less in support than farmers in richer west European countries. The Commission proposal also suggests there should be no transition period to the new subsidy framework. One worry for Czech farmers is the possibility that a ceiling could be put on payments to large farms. Czech farm holdings are six times larger than the EU average.
One man who probably more than anyone else can claim to represent one of the Czech Republic’s biggest success stories ― beer ― is Jan Veselý, general director of the Czech Beer and Malt Association. The association groups the biggest Czech breweries and hop producers. In today’s programme, Mr. Veselý talks about the massive changes he has witnessed in the industry which had moved from the planned economy to privatization and the take off of micro-breweries.
It’s something that happens every once in a while to all of us: you’re waiting to pay for items at the supermarket or grocery store and at the very last second you notice the underside of your egg plant is covered in mold. Or the ends of the cucumber are soggy. Or something in your cart is just plain off. It happened to me most recently at a supermarket after racing through overcrowded aisles I noticed only at the check-out that an expensive pack of peppers was thoroughly rotted. It’s the kind of moment that you vow you’ll never go back to the place
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