During Christmas time and New Year celebrations, the demand for some specific food products such as shellfish, foie gras, game or poultry increases hugely. The intense trade activity at Christmas time in agro-food industries could make food safety difficult to monitor and this could be a risk factor for food-borne illnesses for consumers.

That’s why French authorities are reinforcing their controls in food processing plants, warehouses, supermarkets, markets and restaurants with a program called “Operation year end celebrations” (Opération fêtes de fin d’année). Inspectors make sure that companies which produce and market these festive dishes comply with strict hygiene standards and that labeling provide accurate information to consumers.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.Agri.Fr.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.Agri.Fr.

From December 10th 2012 to January 11th 2013, veterinary services as well as services responsible for fraud inspected 5,138 establishments selling food directly to the consumer such as restaurants, supermarkets, markets or retail stores. Another 1192 inspections were conducted upstream, in establishments producing and/or storing festive foods. If important anomalies were detected (non- respect of hygiene procedures, of expiration dates or sanitary food preservation temperatures), food products had been withdrawn from sale and administrative or legal action (fines, but also closings) were made in regard to the establishments.

A similar program of inspections also exists during summer holidays (Operation Food Vacation) with a reinforced supervision of establishments specialized in seasonal products, restaurants and fast food in tourist areas and leisure centers.