8 June 2020 Provisions on reopening the food and beverage service businesses that were closed because of the coronavirus epidemic (3 April 2020 at 24:00) and on the conditions for their operation have been laid down in a Government decree (173/2020)
Monitoring of compliance with the obligations and restrictive measures laid down in and based on section 58a of the Communicable Diseases Act in food premises (or in operations in the food industry)
- the Regional State Administrative Agencies supervise this and also provide instructions and guidance on the matter
- the Regional State Administrative Agencies implement the monitoring in cooperation with other authorities, such as the municipal food control authorities
- the municipal food control authorities can observe compliance with the provisions and provide instructions and guidance locally alongside their normal monitoring work. Municipalities can use the Regional State Administrative Agency’s instructions when providing advice to companies. The municipal food control and the companies can use the Regional State Administrative Agency’s instructions in organising their operations.
- if the municipal food control authority observes violations of the restrictive measures, it will contact the Regional State Administrative Agency of its area. Municipalities do not have the competence to issue requests or orders regarding the requirements of the Communicable Diseases Act and the Decree issued under it.
- in addition to the monitoring, the provision of instructions and advice related to the implementation will also be centralised to the Regional State Administrative Agencies.
Inspections and monitoring
On 4 May 2020, the Government outlined that the restrictive measures issued because of the special circumstances caused by COVID-19 would gradually be lifted. The municipal food control authority should take the effects of lifting these restrictive measures into account in its monitoring work. The policies outlined by the Government are available here.
The Finnish Food Authority issues the following instructions for the inspection work conducted by the municipal control authorities with regard to food control in the special circumstances caused by COVID-19. The instructions are issued to secure the performance of critical duties and to ensure food safety during the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic. The instructions will be in force from 14 May to 31 August 2020 and they will be updated as necessary. Applicable parts of the instructions will also be applied to the food control and monitoring performed by the Regional State Administrative Agencies.
Efforts will be made to ease the restrictive measures concerning the inspection activities in a controlled manner as from 14 May so that food safety can be ensured during the special circumstances if the epidemic continues. The most necessary and urgent inspections are secured as a priority.
Necessary and urgent inspections include:
- investigation of food poisoning cases and epidemics and the related inspections and sample collections.
- management of other food safety hazards and recalls and the related inspections and sample collections.
- inspections and sample collections related to food imports and the issuance of export certificates.
- inspections when a serious violation of legislation is suspected.
- meat inspections that are the responsibility of municipalities.
Other on-site food control and monitoring will be increased gradually. Inspections should primarily be targeted as follows:
- initial inspections of new sites and inspections related to changes of operators.
- inspections of such retail, serving and production sites that have a particularly great need for guidance based on their previous inspection history.
- inspections of sites whose operation has changed significantly during the COVID-19 epidemic.
- systematic supervision of food export companies.
- inspections carried out outdoors will be continued.
- remote inspections will be continued for the sites and with regard to the requirements that they are suitable for.
- other inspections considered necessary by the municipality based on a risk-assessment.