Health officers go on holiday

Health officers from municipalities around the Sweden are going on holiday, leaving no replacements. Out of the 194 municipalities questioned by Swedish Radio, one third answered that they are left without inspectors during the holiday month. Meanwhile, the need for inspections, especially in the south of Sweden, has increased.

The National Food Administration, Livsmedelsverket, has seen big differences in the way each municipality deals with the problem and feels that towns who are left without inspectors are not taking supervision seriously. The minister of agriculture, Ann-Christin Nykvist, said she agreed with the National Food Administration.

“I think it is unacceptable to blame it on the holiday month – one should consider the need for inspections and adjust accordingly. The general picture looks good since the inspections have increased. But it is unacceptable that some municipalities have no inspectors,” said Nykvist to SR.

According to Ann-Sofie Eriksson, head of section for Sweden’s municipalities and county councils, the problem is purely financial, since the resources have not changed for ten years.

“The inspections are financed by fees and these have been the same for ten years, while the costs have obviously increased. The differences are the direct result of how each town decides to invest tax money on inspections,” said Eriksson to SR.

According to the National Food Administration, each municipality is responsible for carrying out regular inspections in an approved manner. But there are no formal requirements for the inspectors’ training, and no rules on how many inspectors each town should employ. Louise Nyholm, an inspector at the National Food Administration, says that competent inspectors should be available at all times.

“Each municipality is responsible according to law to run inspections throughout the entire year. Following a case of food poisoning, a restaurant must be shut down. You must act quickly, and that requires that each town district has the resources needed.”