In Business this week: Korean Airlines bid for a 44 percent stake in the Czech national carrier Czech Airlines, hackers attack the websites of leading Czech banks and the Prague Stock Exchange, there has been a further growth in unemployment and a drop in spirits sales in the wake of last year’ s methanol poisonings.
Free tests of alcohol by the Health Ministry at the end of last year revealed that every eight bottle of spirits out of more than 7,000 checked brought in by households contained dangerous substances – 40 of them lethal amounts of methyl alcohol. The results were announced by the chief hygiene officer on Thursday, roughly half a year since a major poisoning outbreak in the Czech Republic.
In business news this week: monthly Czech household debt has fallen for the first time in 11 years, while consumer confidence went up; Telefónica released lower earning figures for last year than was expected; food produced Hamé wants to expand to Africa and the Middle East; plan for the Czech-Austrian Mozart pipeline has been revived; produced of esophagus stents wins Czech innovation prize; year-on-year profits for Czech pension funds went up last year.
Free checks carried out on almost 7,000 bottles of spirits found that 40 contained potentially lethal amounts of methanol, the Czech Republic’s chief hygiene officer, Vladimír Valenta, said on Thursday. Mr. Valenta said the tests, which were carried out by officials from his agency, could have saved the lives of the owners of the spirits. Last year 42 people died in the Czech Republic from drinking poisonous bootleg booze and the sale of all spirits was banned for a fortnight.
A batch of meatballs pulled from shelves at IKEA's stores after Czech inspectors discovered they contained horsemeat had been on sale in several European countries, the company's Czech spokesman said on Monday. Petr Chadraba, spokesman for the Swedish furniture chain’s Czech branch, said the batch of meatballs had been on sale in countries including Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Two more imported products have been found to contain horsemeat instead of the listed beef and pork. DNA tests showed that Swedish meatballs slated for the Brno IKEA store and one brand of hamburgers produced in Poland were made from horsemeat. More than one ton of the products was confiscated. Last week, horsemeat was found in frozen lasagna that was produced in Luxembourg.
Czech food inspectors, who on Wednesday confirmed the presence of horsemeat in frozen lasagne by the firm Nowaco, have warned customers about a second suspect product on the market. The Czech Food Inspection authority received warning from Germany via the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed regarding lasagne made by Eisemann in Luxembourg which has also been found to contain horsemeat. Although horsemeat is legally sold in the Czech Republic, in the form of salami, its presence must clearly be stated on the label. Violation of the law can result in a fine of up to 3 million crowns.
The Czech Republic became the latest country to be hit by the horsemeat scandal on Wednesday, after officials confirmed the presence of horse DNA in frozen lasagne labelled as containing beef. The imported lasagne – sold at a Tesco supermarket in the city of Plzeň – has now been withdrawn as Czech authorities carry out further tests.
Two batches of pre-made frozen lasagna that were set to be sold by Tesco in the Czech Republic were found to contain horsemeat instead of beef, which was stated in the ingredients. The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority ordered Tesco to take all of the Nowaco frozen lasagna off the shelves, since the label was misleading customers. The batches that were found to contain horsemeat were marked as having been produced in Luxembourg. Horsemeat can be legally sold in the Czech Republic.
František Čuba, the 77-year-old former head of a Communist-era agricultural collective, will serve as an advisor on farming issues to President Miloš Zeman when he is installed at Prague Castle, the two men announced after a meeting on Tuesday. Mr. Čuba, who is a member of Mr. Zeman’s Citizens’ Rights Party, is known for heading a collective farm at Slušovice in South Moravia in the 1980s; the farm achieved a “socialist miracle” by branching out into other areas of the economy and generating huge turnover.
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