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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Hidden traps in tourist menus - Trade Inspection Authority audits

< previous | next > 26.04.2018

Hidden traps in tourist menus - Trade Inspection Authority audits
  • Haddock instead of cod, mutton kebab without mutton, oscypek replaced with rolada ustrzycka were among the dishes offered by restaurants, fast-food bars and fish and chip shops in tourist destinations.
  • The Trade Inspection Authority has audited 160 facilities and discovered irregularities in nearly 80 percent of them.
  • The State Sanitary Inspection, which supervises food establishments, has been controlling the safety of food offered to tourists.

The May long weekend is coming. Many Poles are preparing for trips during which they will be eating out. One should not always believe what is stated in the menu, the Trade Inspection Authority's audit shows. Sometimes cooks use cheaper ingredients or serve smaller portions.

The nationwide inspection took place in the third quarter of 2017. Inspectors checked 160 restaurants, fast-food bars, fish and chip shops, taverns, pizzerias and similar establishments in tourist locations or along roads leading to them. The Authority selected them on the basis of complaints and previous inspection findings, and at random. The inspectors focused on the reliability of service, the quality of food and drinks, the conditions of their storage and the method of informing about the prices. They found irregularities in as many as 127 establishments (79.4%). Most often, they concerned the replacement of ingredients or failure to provide complete information about the prices and ingredients.

"The inspection showed that the quality of food and the reliability of service in restaurants located in tourist destinations leave much to be desired. Sometimes tourists are even cheated. They get cheaper meat, fish or cheese than stated in the menu and the portions tend to be smaller," says Marek Niechciał, president of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.

In total, the inspectors examined 4,018 batches of products. They questioned 1,743 of them (43.4%).

Main irregularities:

  1. Ingredients replaced in 46 establishments, e.g.:

- more expensive meat was replaced with other meat: mutton kebab did not contain
a gram of mutton, pierogi with lamb and beef filling had only beef inside, while poultry gyros had pork inside,

- fish species were not correct: cooks served the cheaper yellowfin sole as the more expensive sole, and haddock as cod,

- instead of feta and oscypek cheeses (which under EU rules bear the protected designation of origin mark) customers received cheaper cheeses, most often the Favita salad cheese and rolada ustrzycka,

- an instant chocolate-flavoured drink pretended to be hot chocolate, while
a pineapple drink – juice.

  1. Too small portions in 17 establishments, e.g.:

- grilled turkey meat weighed 106g and 109g instead of the 160g stated on the menu,

- in placek po zbójnicku with beef, inspectors found only 43g and 49g of meat versus the 120g on the menu,

- a portion of perch contained 137g of fish meat instead of the 200g on the menu.

  1. Improper storage of food, e.g.:

- in 20 establishments, the inspectors found goods past their sell-by dates, including spices, processed meat and cheeses,

- in 10 establishments, ready products (bigos, flaki and salads) were found in open containers placed in the same fridge as for example thawed fish, raw meat and cottage cheese,

- 10 establishments had dirty floors, refrigeration units and equipment that has contact with food.

  1. Incorrect quotation of prices in 50 establishments – the pricelist lacked information how much of the food or drink the customers were going to get for a given price.
  2. Incorrect markings – 1,632 batches of products out of the 2,284 examined ones
    (71.5 pct), e.g.:

- no list of ingredients, particularly in the case of non-packaged food,

- failure to inform consumers about allergens.

Penalties for businesses

The Trade Inspection Authority fined 25 people responsible for selling adulterated or bad quality food. The penalties amounted to PLN 28,100 in total. The Authority also issued
45 fines amounting to PLN 8,600 in total. The fines were given to owners of establishments with bad sanitary conditions, products past their sell-by dates and non-validated scales. The Authority also submitted 13 court motions for punishment for unreliable service (fraud) or preparing dishes from products past their sell-by dates.

The State Sanitary Inspection's supervision

As every year, in the summer season of 2017 the State Sanitary Inspection stepped up its audits of mass caterers, mainly restaurants and small catering outlets. You can find the results of the inspection (only in Polish) on the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate's website. It mainly covered the three provinces which attract most tourists in the summer season: Zachodniopomorskie, Pomorskie and Warmińsko-Mazurskie. The State Sanitary Inspection most often found irregularities related to hygienic regulations, the health and hygiene of the personnel as well as using products past their sell-by dates and lack of identification of food. In each case, the Inspection took action to eliminate them, issuing penalties and fines. The State Sanitary Inspection says it will increase its audits this summer as well.

Are you going to a restaurant or a fast-food bar? Pay attention to:

  • the pricelist – you have the right to know the amount of the bill and what kind of food you are going to get before you order,
  • the list of ingredients – it must be available, for example in the menu or the pricelist; pay special attention to ingredients that may cause allergies,
  • the smell and cleanliness – if you do not like the dining room, the kitchen is probably worse.

The audit report is available only in Polish.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office 
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa
Phone: +48 695 902 088
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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