ECONOMY

23 milk-processing firms get penalized

The Agricultural Development and Food Ministry yesterday imposed fines totaling -205,000 on 23 dairy companies, after Hellenic Milk Organization (ELOG) screenings showed they failed to keep up the monthly balance of incoming milk with outgoing products. This means that the quantity of milk they received is not the same as that required for the products they supplied to the market. The list of the companies fined does not include any of the major dairy industries. The fines imposed range between -500 and -50,000. This conforms with the government decision forcing industries in the milk-processing sector to provide ELOG with data on their milk balance every month. This way the competent ministries hope to restore order in the turbulent milk sector by stamping out phenomena of adulteration, particularly in the production of feta cheese. At a recent event on the Greek dairy industry, scientists and farmers revealed that Greece’s «national cheese» is adulterated and that checks throughout production are insufficient. According to a European Union regulation, feta (for which Greece fought a 10-year battle in the EU to establish it as a «Protected Designation of Origin» product) must be produced by a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk at a 70-30 balance. This is the first time the incoming and outgoing milk quantities are being measured. There are 650 companies in the milk packaging and processing sector in Greece, but 90 percent of cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk is processed by the major dairy companies.