For the food safety police, it’s a nightmare in the kitchen

published on Friday, December 9, 2022 at 10:06 a.m

“We will file there, it’s not good.” Barely entered with their police escort in a dubious kebab at the exit of the station in Arnouville (Val-d’Oise), the agents for the control of hygiene understand that they have work to do.

It’s almost noon before lunch is shot. Wearing a disposable gown over their coat, three inspectors from the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP) open the fridges, take out the bucket of white sauce and dip a thermometer into the meat preparation in front.

Instead of the 4°C imposed by food regulations, the curry chicken vegetates in the fridge at 7.6°C, the chicken skewer at 8.3, the lamb skewer at 9.

“Not bad, eh”, they comment.

No traceability is indicated on the products, the temperature of the food is never checked. Minced meat is stored in a supermarket plastic bag. Construction workers’ putty knives double as meat scrapers.

During the helpless protests of one of the restaurant’s employees, who storms in furiously, several kilos of meat go into the trash.

While the kebab spit spins in a vacuum and the fries get cold, the police round up the four Turkish employees present. Only one is fine, the other three are black and without a residence permit. They take the direction of the police station.

For several months, the authorities in Val-d’Oise have increased the joint operations of the DDPP and the police for forceful actions combining health checks and combating undeclared work. Markets and passing places are targeted in turn.

The results are then published on social networks with shocking images to support. Assuming the practice of “name and shame” (“nail to the pillory”), the prefecture even lists on its official accounts the names of restaurants guilty of the most serious offenses and subject to administrative closure.

– Fast food –

In this working-class department in the Ile-de-France region, which has one of the youngest average ages in France, fast food and takeaway sales are ubiquitous in urban areas. Food on the go, sometimes prepared at the expense of hygiene.

“When you are in a civilian place, people know how to defend themselves. When you are in a popular environment, you have to protect and we have to be very present here”, explains the prefect Philippe Court to AFP, which follows this. operation that mobilizes about thirty civil servants.

Opposite the kebab, other DDPP inspectors are busy in a small family grocery store, where prices are handwritten on labels. Examining the range of bleaching products sold there, they seize those containing substances banned in France.

“We are in the secondary, even tertiary circuit, so products that are withdrawn from sale in traditional mass distribution sometimes end up in this kind of store, in bazaars or market markets”, says Viviane Dardel, head of department at DDPP.

In May 2022, the government announced the creation of a “single police force”, which will move food safety control from the management of Bercy to that of the Ministry of Agriculture. But vagueness remains on its privileges and its workforce.

Of the dozen or so establishments checked that day, the authorities issued six warnings and initiated five closure procedures for non-compliance with hygiene rules or hidden work, particularly against kebabs.

Unless there is imminent danger, these closures take fourteen days to take effect.

The time is 1:00 p.m. Their tour complete, the DDPP agents left. But in the kebab held by the Turks, the customers parade. Lunch is served…

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