Adequacy of food control in 2004
On the basis of the number of controlled locations, for each control unit (municipality or federation of municipalities) the minimum input of resources required for the control of the locations was calculated. In 2004, the total input of resources fell 104 person-years short of the minimum need. The shortage is not evenly distributed among the municipalities, as the resources focused on food control vary significantly from one Finnish municipality to the other. Annual variation is common, but monitoring of the municipalities on an annual basis shows that in many control units the shortage of resources is permanent.
In addition to the adequacy of resources, the assessment of food control has also covered monitoring of inspection frequencies, sampling carried out by authorities, control activities that have been carried out, coverage of in-house control plans as well as food analyses focused on different product groups. The recently published report presents the control data by municipalities and provinces, and by the types of controlled locations, as well as analysis data by products and type of analysis.
The adequacy of municipal food control was assessed for the seventh time on the basis of information that concerned the year 2004. The assessment showed that in 2004 the total input of resources on food control in Finnish municipalities was 282 person-years, with 1 027 municipal officers working in food control tasks. This amount fell 104 person-years short of the theoretical minimum need.
The minimum input of resources required to implement regulatory food control was calculated for each municipality on the basis of the number of locations in the municipality. Due to the shortage of resources, only 65% of the 50 349 locations in Finland had been inspected during 2004. Food control also covers milk producing farms (17 031 farms), which are to be inspected every three years. The input of resources on food control has increased by 24 person-years in seven years, but at the same time the number of locations has also increased so that the relation between the realised input of resources and the theoretical minimum need has remained more or less unchanged.
In a total of 223 municipalities/federations of municipalities, or 81% of the control units, the defined minimum input was not reached. Finnish municipalities vary a lot in terms of food control, but annual monitoring of the municipalities shows that there are many municipalities where the shortage remains unchanged despite repeated admonitions and requests for clarification. The Table shows the municipalities with clear deficiencies in 2004.
The field of food control is undergoing significant changes: a major amendment of food laws has been implemented this year, and on the other hand, there is a lot of pressure toward changes in the service structure of municipalities. The policy decision that aims at developing food control calls for regional control units established by municipalities, as well as for cooperation. The planning, documentation and monitoring of food control also need to be developed further. The National Food Agency together with provincial governments has started assessments of the conformity of food control. Summaries of these assessments will be published on the Internet sites of the provincial governments starting in June.
When preparing plans and carrying out monitoring activities, it is important to evaluate the sufficiency of present resources. By virtue of the new Food Act municipalities will start charging control fees, the purpose of which is to ensure adequate municipal control resources. Functioning control can be seen as a means to support the business life by providing expertise in legislation, and the charging of fees obliges the municipalities to ensure the quality of the control efforts.
Table. Municipalities, in which the input of resources was less than 50% of the defined minimum need in 2004
3 Harjavallan seudun th ky
7 Härkätien ktt ky
13 Kokkolan seudun th ky
16 Lammin-Tuuloksen ktt ky
20 Naantalin ktt ky
24 Oravaisten, Vöyrin ja Maksamaan th ky
26 Pelkosenniemen-Savukosken ktt ky
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The Report on the Adequacy of Municipal Food Control (in Finnish) is available on the Internet site of the National Food Agency at: http://www.palvelu.fi/evi/files/55_519_365.pdf