Food controls lead to collapse

3 min read

On average it takes 15 days, but up to 25 days are required to obtain the reports of health checks on food goods in the ports of Genoa, Savona and Vado Ligure in order to release them. Genoese shippers denounce an “unsustainable” situation, which risks causing extra costs for companies and a cascade for consumers’ pockets. The causes: few staff – especially a few veterinary doctors – in charge of checks and analyses, dealing with an enormous amount of work and, to extend the time even further, the samples of goods are not analyzed on site but sent to laboratories throughout Italy.

«The plates of one Italian in four are filled with food products landed in Genoa and in the Ligurian ports which have national leadership. But the staff assigned to manage the controls is inadequate and has an unacceptable workload. Food and veterinary prevention linked to food for human consumption or feed for livestock that ends up on our tables is the least known face of healthcare but equally important, because hundreds of tons of goods arrive in the ports and enter directly into the food chain or it is used by the food industry”, denounces Giampaolo Botta, general director of Spediporto, the association of Genoese freight forwarders.

Estimates speak of 150 thousand containers per year of meat and fish products (25% of the entire national traffic), subjected to checks in the ports of Genoa and Vado Liguria, plus another 100 thousand of goods of vegetable origin (from fruit and vegetables to rice, from coffee to spices), equal to 50% of national traffic. On the other hand, the Uvac (Veterinary Offices for Community Compliance) and PCF (Border Control Posts) offices in Genoa and Vado Ligure went from 32 employees in 2022 to 14 in 2023, of which only four doctors, which dropped from a short time to three.

Result: «For a check that eight years ago was carried out in three days, today we expect up to 25. A bottleneck in the system such as to generate an operational block on imports with an increase in costs. This year the controls required at European level will grow further”, explains Botta who, in addition to the appeal to immediately implement the staffing of the local UVAC and PCF offices (currently lower than those of smaller airports), perhaps with regional competitions, launches another request to the Ministry of Health.

«The goods that must undergo checks must have unified continuous inspection and analysis centers dedicated to them in the port – he says -. As already happens in port hubs such as Barcelona, ​​Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg, guaranteeing quality and speed of service”. Today, however, tests that were previously carried out on site with the local health authorities are sent to zooprophylactic institutes throughout Italy. A sample can be analyzed in Bari as well as in Verona.

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