The Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) has restored previous volumes of on-site inspections of businesses, which were reduced during the emergency situation this spring.
The VTA explained to ERR that beginning March 16, supervision was done on a risk basis, and, where possible, on-site inspections of a preventive nature were postponed instead. Regular work, meanwhile, continued at meat-processing plants and border checkpoints.
In order to facilitate the continued operation of trade, certificates were issued at county centers, and applications for activity licenses for food processing were processed as well.
"All of this to protect both our employees as well as clients," the VTA said. "The agency maintained its preparedness to respond to hazardous situations such as animal disease, foodborne outbreaks and animal abuse."
In addition to contactless supervision and checks requiring immediate attention, high-priority scheduled on-site checks of companies continued in May.
Checks conducted during the emergency situation were connected first and foremost to high- and medium-risk level activities.
From March 1 through June 1, the VTA issued a total of 164 precepts. These involved the keeping of pets, the keeping of farm animals and food.
By now, on-site inspections are being conducted in most fields and in previous volumes again while following personal protection requirements.
Contactless activity during emergency situation
During the emergency situation, the VTA conducted an increased amount of its supervision contactlessly, with checks being conducted based primarily on documents submitted by mail or electronically.
"Inspections and supervision of handlers or animal keepers were conducted on site in cases where the ensuring of food safety and animal welfare and safety could not be ensured any other way," the agency explained, noting that as a supervision authority, in some cases they had no choice but to conduct on-site inspections to ensure the compliance of operations of animal keepers, food producers or food sellers, for example.
The number of VTA inspections during the emergency situation fell primarily at businesses involved in catering and the retail sale of food, which are considered lower-risk businesses.
Many dining establishments were also closed during the emergency situation.
Editor: Aili Vahtla