Beetles, mouse droppings, mold: nauseating conditions in bakeries
A few years ago, the food scandal surrounding the Bavarian large bakery Müller-Brot made headlines for weeks. Back then, disgusting things like mouse droppings and cockroaches had been found in the production facilities. The scandal has apparently not brought about any significant improvement. In some bakeries, there are still serious hygiene deficiencies, as a current report shows. The conditions are kept secret by the authorities.
Authorities had not informed customers
At the beginning of 2012, reports about catastrophic hygienic conditions that had prevailed in the Bavarian large bakery Müller-Brot gradually came to the public. “The authorities had known about this early on, but had not informed the bakery's customers. The media outrage about the mouse droppings, the cockroaches, the worms, but above all about the late information to the public was great, "says the report" Bavarian Bread "by the consumer organization Foodwatch. Five years after the scandal, the question arises as to whether consumers are now better informed about poor hygiene in bakeries and other food businesses. The consumer organization says: "No".
Mouse droppings, beetle infestation, mold, dirt
In the “Bavarian Bread” report, Foodwatch has published control reports from the Bavarian food authorities that show that there were always disgusting conditions in several large bakeries in Bavaria over the years.
Whether baked cockroaches or beetle infestation: As the experts write in a message, consumers have not learned anything about the sometimes catastrophic hygienic conditions.
While some controls were OK, in other cases the control report showed, for example, "clearly visible pest infestation", "massive" contamination or "blackish stains, probably mold".
According to the information, complaints from customers repeatedly triggered controls.
For example, a customer found a foreign body in a roll that the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) identified as "a small mammal's droppings pill". Another time, a foreign body was identified as a baked-in “German cockroach”.
More hygiene scandals?
Consumers found out nothing about the situation because the results of official food controls are generally not published.
However, via the so-called Consumer Information Act (VIG), Foodwatch has applied to the responsible authorities for the release of control results for eight of the largest Bavarian bakery companies.
The organization received information on 69 controls from 2013 to 2016 at the companies Bachmeier, Der Beck, Heinz, Hiestand, Höflinger, Hofpfisterei, Ihle and LSG. The results are documented in the “Bavarian Bread” report.
But even if individual results are now available, much remains unclear for the population: "As long as not all control results are public, the question must be asked: Which hygiene scandals do the authorities know about without notifying them?" Said Johannes Heeg from Foodwatch.
No health risks
"The inspectors in the production facilities of the companies Bäcker Bachmeier, Der Beck and the country bakery Ihle found particularly unsanitary conditions," says the Foodwatch report.
"Even if the foodstuffs produced there did not pose any health risks," from Foodwatch's point of view, it is unacceptable that the customers have not learned anything and continue to eat bread and bread from bakeries, some of which were disgusting.
The research shows that we need a realignment of food surveillance in Germany, according to Foodwatch. The authorities must be obliged to publish all results of official controls without exception in the future.
Only this creates an incentive for food businesses to abide by the hygiene rules every day and ensures fair competition in which clean businesses are no longer stupid.
So far, there is no legal basis for this - civil servants who want to publish information are at risk of legal action from the companies concerned.
Every fourth company in Germany complains
According to Foodwatch, conditions like those in Bavaria are not the exception, but the rule: every fourth controlled food company in Germany is criticized, primarily because of hygiene violations.
Union and SPD had already promised in their coalition agreement in 2013 to provide legal clarity at federal level for better consumer information. However, this promise was not kept.
As long as the federal government does not provide legal certainty, each federal state could also prescribe transparency with its own state law - and thus prevent cases like those in Bavaria in the future.
Denmark as a role model
From the perspective of the consumer organization, Denmark should serve as a model for reforming food surveillance. There, food businesses have been obliged to display the inspection results on the front door for 15 years. The test reports are also available on the Internet.
The result is summarized and evaluated using a smiley. Since the introduction of the “smiley system”, the quota of the companies in question has halved, from 30 to 15 percent (Germany around 25 percent). Other countries, including France and the UK, have since introduced similar systems.
Foodwatch started a hands-on campaign many years ago, which calls for the smiley system for Germany. "There must be an end to the mystery!" (ad)