Operation Food Vacation takes place in France from July, 1st to August, 31st each year. In this framework, approximately 4,000 official inspectors from the French Ministry for Agriculture, Food Industry and Forestry are in the field to reinforce sanitary food controls. Catering activities in vacation centers and local production in tourist zones are targeted.
This operation is based on a cooperation between all government services in charge of food safety: participating ministries include those in charge of agriculture, competition, consumption, fraud prevention, customs and health issues.
In 2012, in each department, government offices reinforced their annual vigilance during summer, a period where the most frequent irregularities are discovered relating to food inspections. During a season marked by large volumes of tourists, increased activity can also be a source of storage problems and non-compliance with hygiene rules.
Non-compliance is mostly linked to:
• Hygiene (premises, staff and food handling)
• Non-respect of expiration dates and of sanitary food preservation temperatures
In total, 5150 lbs of food products were removed from the market in 2012.
In 2012, 17,562 inspections were conducted (versus 15,692 in 2011) by inspectors of the French Ministry for Agriculture, Food Industry and Forestry. They took place primarily in local restaurants but also in local markets and in the retail sector.” In local and business catering, the rate of major non-compliance citations rose to 15.1% and 5.4% respectively, and to 11.2% for the retailers sector.
Moreover, 1,097 inspections on food transportation conditions were conducted: the rate of major non-compliance citations is about 7.7%.
Globally in France, 241 establishments were closed administratively (versus 152 in 2011) including 150 closings for the business restaurants sector (versus 78 in 2011).
During the holiday period, sanitary services similarly reinforce their controls on food, on an initiative named “Operation Holidays.” It takes place from December 10th, 2012, to January 11th 2013, and mobilizes also almost 4,000 officials from the French Ministry for Agriculture, Food Industry and Forestry.
French authorities are ensuring that the increased trade activity during the holidays is taking place in the respect of hygiene, security and product quality rules.
The holiday period in France often sees an increase in the demand for certain kinds of food such as shellfish, foie gras, wild game, etc… Sanitation inspections are strengthened in several sectors and particularly in the production, processing and trade establishments of shellfish, game meat and other seasonal products. Transportation and product storage undergo similar inspections.
If a problem is highlighted (no respect of the sanitary or labelling regulation), administrative or legal follow-ups (fines, but also closings) are taken in regard to the establishments.