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Why Ukrainians are poisoned with food from groceries and get cancer

Author : Olena Holubeva

10:30, 1 December 2017
Why Ukrainians are poisoned with food from groceries and get cancer

Author : Olena Holubeva

This disappointing situation is primarily due to the difficult economic situation in the country, overall poverty of the population, which is forced to buy substandard products

10:30, 1 December 2017

Read the original text at 112.ua.

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November 28, Ukraine’s State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection (USSFSCP), the only body responsible for the quality and safety of food products, held a meeting on the results of work for 9 months of the year. There the head of the main USSFSCP Kyiv department Oleh Ruban announced shocking figures. According to him, at least 30-50% of food products in Ukraine are falsified. "Unfortunately, the percentage of falsified products is quite substantial," Volodymyr Lapa, head of USSFSCP, confirmed, advising us to pay attention to the figures of independent public organizations that independently conducted research. "In some categories figures are even larger (than 30-50%)," Lapa said.

According to data provided by the public organization "Public Control of Consumer Protection", for 9 months, 25 out of 34 samples of butter tested by the organization, or 74% of the total, were fakes with non-dairy fats of unknown origin. At least 7 (39%) out of the 18 samples of proven sour cream, also contain non-dairy fat content. Also, non-milk fats were found in about half of all the hard cheese samples tested. According to deputy head of the Ukrainian Scientific and Methodological Center for Conformity Assessment and Food Research UkrPRODEST Halyna Harbarchuk, most often the substitutes for milk fat in foods are trans isomers, or hydrogenated fats. "For example, some types of olive oil do not contain any olive oil at all: this might be just an ordinary sunflower oil or other cheap oil." The fact that palm oil is used in cheese, sour cream, ice cream is already well known," Halyna Harbarchuk said.

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The supply of dairy raw materials is less than demand. In addition, according to recent data, the export of dairy products has significantly increased, in particular, to the countries of the European Union. And the supply of quality dairy raw materials in the domestic market will further decrease. To date, a large assortment of so-called cheese products, ice cream with a combination of raw materials or sour cream is presented on the shelves. A priori, they must contain at least 10% of dairy raw materials, but in fact they do not. To produce such products only trans fats are used with the addition of flavorings, various dyes. Mayonnaises, sauces in most cases have trans fats. The same with cookies, sweets, yoghurts. Especially many cases of replacement of milk fats in cheese, in particular, in melted cheese. They often contain not just simple palm oil, but hydrogenated. The latest scientific research of American scientists suggests that these trans fats are one of the largest provocateurs of oncological diseases.

Another category of products, in which there is a lot of fabrication, is sausage, especially the low price segment, experts say. Substandard raw materials are often used here. Thanks to modern equipment, there are claws, feathers, hoofs, cartilages, and tendons - all that can be crushed. Wasteless production. The problem is that without flavors and colorants, this mass is completely tasteless.

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Two or three pomegranate juices out of the ten checked, in fact, contain pomegranate. The rest is falsification. The lack of truthful information about the components of the product on the label is one of the biggest problems: at the very least, the consumer has the right to know what exactly he is eating, and consciously to report on the consequences of using the product.

The consequences of using falsified products do not come immediately, but their use after purchasing in places where security conditions are not respected, can manifest themselves much more rapidly, for example, in the form of acute poisoning, salmonella or botulism. In particular, such products can be bought at cheap fairs, which are held in different parts of the city under the auspices of city authorities.

According to USSFSCP deputy head Oleksandr Ovcharenko, in the course of the raid, in particular, at the fairs of Kyiv, facts of the implementation of perishable food products not from refrigeration equipment were discovered, violation of temperature regimes of food storage, sale of products of animal origin (meat, fish) without accompanying documents were witnessed. Also, most sellers did not have personal medical books or had books with an expired period of preventive check-up.

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Another serious problem in Kyiv, which was mentioned at the meeting, is "street food", in particular, kiosks, which prepare shawarma. The USSFSCP in Kyiv recorded the facts of the manufacture of food products in unsanitary conditions, in particular, there was no water supply, economic activity was conducted without state registration, there was a lack of state registration of facilities, the sale of food products of animal origin without accompanying documents, without labeling, implementation of food products by employees without medical books.

At the same time, the control scales are more than relevant at Kyiv fairs, Ovcharenko noted. Metrological studies have shown that sellers of fairs often outweigh buyers: "Basically these are 300 grams per kilogram. Nearly every time."

By the way, about medical books. USSFSCP has verified 1,270 medical books for reliability, only on 508 medical books of them were appropriate, Ovcharenko said: "Falsifications in 762 medical books have been established, which is 60% of the total number of checked books."

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According to Lapa, in general, the number of mass poisonings in Ukraine was "high enough, but controlled." In Kyiv the situation with acute intestinal infections due to violation of the requirements of sanitary legislation by business entities, in particular preschool, general education institutions and institutions catering, over the past few years has deteriorated significantly, said Ovcharenko at the meeting.

According to him, during the first 9 months of 2017 4 outbreaks of acute intestinal infection, 3 outbreaks of salmonellosis (including one in a preschool center), one outbreak of food poisoning were registered in the city. During the outbreaks 102 people (including 50 children) became ill, 45 carriers of salmonella infection (including 42 children) were found. Out of 60 samples of foodstuffs selected in the course of sanitary and epidemiological surveys of economic entities, 20 did not answer "microbiological indicators of normative documents." In particular, coliforms, staphylococcus, and listeria were found in the samples, which provokes serious diseases and food poisoning.

"The general microbiological contamination indicates an unsatisfactory state of production. The production is not checked by the state, technology is being disrupted, improperly processed packaging is used for production. Excess of staphylococcus indicates a violation of the sanitary condition of the employees themselves. Staphylococcus is usually carried by a person, which may also indicate an inadequate medical examination by the staff," explained 112.ua Olena Sydorenko.

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Outbreaks of botulism also resulted from the current unsatisfactory situation. In particular, in Kyiv for 9 months of this year, 9 people fell ill, one died. One of the diseased used a home-made pate, another two - dried fish, prepared at home, and the rest - dried fish of industrial production.

The current disappointing situation was primarily due to the difficult economic situation in the country, overall poverty of the population, which is forced to buy substandard products on the shelves. However, the lack of effective state control in the sphere of food quality and safety also aggravates the situation, the State Consumer Protection Service acknowledges. "The reason for this situation is the legislative restrictions on the possibility of conducting inspections. Frankly speaking, we do not have a preventive function. As part of the planned control and supervision, the moratorium acted, it is now canceled. And, of course, all this did not allow for effective state control," Lapa commented for 112.ua.

Volodymyr Lapa states that there were cases during the mass poisonings, when the products were taken away from the market. In particular, in the case of poisoning with fish in Lviv. The work of Eurasia restaurant in Kyiv in connection with the outbreak of salmonella was also suspended. But this is, figuratively speaking, like fire fighting vs. preventive measures.

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At the same time, no large-scale sanctions have been applied to manufacturers of counterfeit products. Although, in Lapa's words, in the case of serious violations, it is theoretically possible to stop the work of the enterprise through the court. "

The thing is that the medium and large business, which earns excellent money on falsifications, has serious connections at the very top of the power. "I also negotiated on this question with Volodymyr Borysovych (Groysman, - Ed.), and with Stepan Ivanovich (Kubiva, ed.). These are the people who directly lead the state. And also there were people at the meeting who were directly involved to the introduction of a moratorium (for inspections). And, incidentally, there was an information on the study of public organizations that checked oil, meat, sausage and even sausage with meat of unknown origin. People present in the hall said: "Thanks God, I do not buy anything in our supermarkets," the head of the USSFSCP noted.

Moreover, the responsible authorities often tend to delay the approval of permits for inspections, and even leave them without an answer at all. "State Food and Consumer Service of Kyiv received 87 appeals, and only 29 cases were acknowledged and justified and unplanned control measures from the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and the State Regulatory Service were prescribed, another 18 received refusals to conduct inspections, and at the end of the quarter, the rest remained unanswered,” Ovcharenko explained.  

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Despite the fact that the violations were found and recorded on video by media and the public organizations, so far no sanctions have been achieved.

In conversation with 112.ua, Lapa expressed his confidence that the situation with food quality control will improve significantly from April 2018, when most of the provisions of the law “On state control, which is carried out to check the compliance of the legislation on safety and quality of food, health, and animal welfare."

"We will receive a long-term monitoring plan from April 2018, based on risk criteria, that is, certain types of products will be identified that are subject to more detailed control. Any enterprise could be checked without warning," Volodymyr Lapa said.

However, the fact that the law is adopted does not mean that it will not be changed. On the day after the signing of the law, the president instructed to alter its second and eighth articles in the part that the agreement should be left, and the possibility of checking without warning can be limited, that is, the president signed the European integration law with one hand, and the other - fulfilled those obligations, promised to someone else.

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Public officials are afraid that inspections can create corruption opportunities for officials of territorial departments of USSFSCP. The practice of previous years shows that this phenomenon has taken place, not only in the field of quality control of products. However, the economic growth and improvement of the welfare of Ukrainians could certainly improve the situation in a natural way. In this case, people would like to buy more expensive and quality products from manufacturers who have earned a reputation of trustworthy. The current situation with the quality of food products in Ukraine is serious. Experts from Sanco, the main European body for the supervision of food quality, already know about it. It is on the basis of inspections of this body that Ukrainian producers are entitled, within the limits of quotas, to supply their products to the capacious and money market of the EU. There will be three Sanco audits in Ukraine next year, and one of the issues that is already being discussed there is the suspension of confidence in the reformed body (USSFSCP, - Ed.). If this happens, the consequences can be very serious even for companies that produce high-quality products.

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