A stricter intervention policy and unforeseen occurrences caused the NVWA to be a busy controlling authority in 2017. The change in policy lead to more administrative fines. Food business operators need to be aware of this change in the intervention policy of the NVWA.

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (“NVWA”) recently published its annual report for 2017. We will highlight some developments and interesting facts and figures.

The biggest issue for the NVWA was the fipronil-crisis. The forbidden substance was used to prevent blood lice to chicken. Due to the use thereof hundreds of undertakings involved in the egg and poultry sector were blocked, causing the destruction of millions of eggs.

Labelling of food remains a major issue to the NVWA. The labels must inform consumers on the ingredients. However, the labels are not always correct and often even misleading. The NVWA prioritises its enforcement efforts and by doing so it gives priority to vulnerable groups. In 2017 this concerned milk for toddlers. From research it follows that 68% of the producers of milk for toddlers complied with the applicable legislation, which is an improvement compared to 2014, when only 15% of the labels of the investigated products complied.

In 2017 the NVWA investigated 250 foodstuffs on the actual presence of alleged ingredients. 80 out of the 250 products could not pass the test. Consequently, they were considered to be misleading.

In 2017 the NVWA has imposed 8.736 administrative fines, 30% more than in 2016. This is a result of the stricter intervention policy of the NVWA and the introduction of enhanced surveillance. This enhanced surveillance means that before imposing a fine, the NVWA will only give one written warning (instead of two). For some violations an administrative fine will be imposed without any written warning. Most fines were imposed for a violation of the Commodities Act (Warenwet).

To conclude, the NVWA had a busy year with the fipronil-crisis, labelling of foodstuffs and the control thereof. Moreover, the results of the introduced stricter intervention policy of the NVWA lead to an increase of fines in 2017. We expect this development to continue in 2018.