TBILISI, DFWatch–Nearly 200 children were poisoned at Tbilisi kindergartens in November, 2012. According to the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the reason was bad quality products.

Representatives of the National Food Agency say that sanctions have been applied for companies producing food, but the main problem is the lack of a law that regulates food safety.

200 children were poisoned simultaneously at kindergartens in the capital in November. According to the NCDC, 198 children had gastrointestinal infection, after which all kindergartens were checked. All of the children feel well today.

The NCDC conducted a study, where every kindergarten where children were poisoned, Food-Service Ltd provided the food, while Neli Ltd distributed bread products. After the study, the butter Shatili-Rustavi was singled out as suspicious and also the less-salted Imeruli cheese.

According to the National Food Agency, inspectors of the agency conducted an unscheduled inspection after this study at all factories providing kindergartens with food.

They took samples of cheese, and after the study, production was suspended and companies fined with USD 600. The cheese was polluted. Other companies were just given recommendations, as no violations were found. Cheese belonged to the company Chveneburebi, which improved violations in a given term and now the company is given permission to resume production.

The Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG) February 1 presented a report about the conclusions of a survey of different products in 2011-2013, showing that hygiene remains one of the main problems in Georgia in regards to food safety. The report revealed that the main reason food safety is violated is pollution in 95 percent of cases, which indicates a violation of hygiene regulations.

The organization demands stricter control of food safety and to expand the area for research. Otherwise, they consider it impossible to achieve food safety in the country.

There are registered about 40 000 industrial companies in Georgia and the National Food Agency should check it in a planned manner, but doesn’t have enough resource to check each of them.

Giga Kurdovanidze, head of the public relations and information department at the National Food Agency, explains that they mainly check manufacturers of high risk products. Unscheduled inspections are conducted in case of specific information about violations are reported, which was what happened in this case.

Providing food safety is one of the main conditions Georgia has to fulfill in order to get closer to the EU. In recent years, this issue has remained without any regulation, because Sakashvili’s government considered that the market would regulate the quality of food. The EU demands that this attitude is changed, but appropriate legislation in this field is incomplete.

Kurdovanidze says that legislation needs improvement and work has already started in this direction.