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Watchdog Wants to Do Eatery Inspections Without Forewarning

Shaurma being prepared at one of Moscow's many street-vendors. Vladimir Filonov

The Federal Consumer Protection Service wants to scrap its obligation to inform food service establishments of upcoming inspections, citing widespread deception by businesses attempting to evade the checks.

“The procedure of prior notification in many cases impedes conducting inspections, as the subject of the inspection often uses all possible methods to evade the delivery of the document announcing the impending inspection,” according to a statement about the bill’s submission posted on the unified government portal on Saturday.

Businesses will resort to any excuse, such as claiming to be renovating or feigning the illness of responsible persons, the consumer protection agency said.

The agency also submitted another draft bill at the same time that foresees increasing the penalties for impeding inspections as well as for breaking sanitary laws.

In the bill, the agency notes that cases of evading inspection have increased markedly in recent years: 2000 cases of impeding inspections went to trial in 2012 compared to 300 during five months of 2011.

The number of violations discovered in food service establishments has also risen, from 35,000 in 2011 to 53,000 in 2012, while the number of inspections rose only slightly, from 14,900 to 16,400.

For businesses who violate sanitary laws, “it is more profitable to pay the administrative fine than to eliminate the identified violation,” the bill says.

To give the law some teeth, the draft legislation proposes substantially increasing the cost of violating sanitation rules and inspection procedures, putting fines for companies at between 100,000 ($3,000) and 300,000 rubles.

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