No protection

Is there any protection for the Greek consumer? The question arose once again after reports surfaced concerning moldy yogurt produced by a reputable dairy foods giant that exports its goods abroad, followed by other reports of honey containing high levels of poisonous chemicals. If we are to judge from the reactions of the so-called responsible officials, the question is not easy to answer. Greece’s state food safety watchdog either failed to do something it should have done, did it in the wrong way, did it after a long delay, or (finally) chose to turn a blind eye to the problem for reasons unknown to the general public. Consumers were eventually informed after the media drew public attention to the problem, at least in the case of the moldy yogurt. Clearly, responsible political and state officials are not doing enough to notify consumers of potential dangers. In this country, people might be better off not taking at face value any official reassurances regarding risky products. It is not just the food watchdog failures that have triggered such questions. Every now and then we are told that the economy is not competitive, that the state apparatus is in poor shape, unproductive and corrupt, that people are at odds with state bureaucracy, that the judicial system is mired in graft and corruption, that the quality of the state education system is in decline, that university degrees do not enjoy strong prestige in the job market, that clerics are not to be trusted, or that soccer fans are at risk whenever they visit a stadium. Such confessions have been heard for many decades now. The problem is that they come from the lips of people who have undertaken – not without economic reward – the burden of solving these problems. This absurdity has become the norm. And we seem to be nowhere near its end.