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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 1, 2013
Polska… tastes good!
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Polish Food is Safe Food
March 1, 2013   
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by Stanis³aw Kalemba, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

Poland’s hard work so far has ensured record sales of agricultural and food products abroad. Data for 2012 shows that sales totaled almost 17.5 billion euros, with a trade surplus of 4.1 billion euros. No other sector performed as well in foreign trade.

Agriculture and the food processing industry are worth investing in, as investment translates into new jobs and real budget revenues. We also need to remember that according to demographers, world population growth in the coming years will necessitate a 70-percent increase in global food production by 2050 and so it is advisable for Polish farmers, food processing companies and exporters to actively join in the process. We have very good food which is highly popular with consumers across the EU and its popularity outside the EU is growing as well.

Apparently, not everybody seems to be happy about this. This year began with some alarming news about Polish food and the quality of it. First, the Danish agriculture minister posted a disapproving comment online about the quality of Polish food. I reacted sharply to the unfounded remarks. The statement was deleted from the website, but comments in the media continued for some time. Before they died down, new allegations came from Slovakia that Polish-made chocolate bars contained powdered milk contaminated with a rodent repellent. Then, claims were made in Ireland and Britain about beefburgers allegedly contaminated with horsemeat from Poland.

I am convinced that such attacks on Polish food are mainly the result of other countries trying to protect domestic producers and fears over consumers being increasingly interested in Polish food. Preliminary data for last year confirms that exports of Polish agricultural and food products were on the rise yet again. We broke a new record by selling products worth around 17.5 billion euros, with a record trade surplus of more than 4.1 billion euros. These figures have more than tripled since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

The growing fear of Polish food seems only natural, then. But our food is its own best advocate with its delicious flavors, scents and high quality.

The allegations I have mentioned above concern criminal offenses and not food quality as such. Whoever cheats in terms of the content of food is an offender and not a producer, and will be dealt with by the law. As soon as such information appeared, Polish inspection authorities took appropriate measures in terms of checking and investigating. In the case of the contaminated powdered milk, Poland immediately informed the EU authorities and took the appropriate steps. This was an ordinary crime, a fraud perpetrated by dishonest producers.

I need to point out that we were the ones to detect the irregularities and alert our partners about the situation via the EU rapid alert system. I should also emphasize the fact that neither this nor the other cases placed consumers at risk, unlike scandals that we have seen in the past several years in other EU member states as a result of which people died. The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has recorded problems with food found in every country.

We operate on a single market and are bound by identical regulations on food quality inspection. I cannot, however, allow the quality of our food to be vilified in the absence of hard evidence.

Nevertheless, we are constantly keeping track of changing requirements and we constantly analyze the work of our authorities in this field. We are also working on new ways to ensure that such services become even more efficient.

Polish food is safe food. It is high class and Polish flavors, scents and culinary quality often outshine those of many other products, as evidenced by the constantly growing popularity of Polish food among 500 million consumers in the EU as well as in other regions, such as the Far East. I am confident that anyone who has tried Polish food once will buy it again and ignore unfounded accusations.

In January, I witnessed consumers’ appreciation of Polish food once again during the Grüne Woche trade fair in Berlin, where crowds of visitors flocked to the Polish stands.
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