Sanidad or Insanity?

May 13th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Hello, Mr Angry here! Well, where do I start?

I have worked in the Food & Wine business for the whole of my working life (more years than I care to mention), and being in this industry breeds a healthy respect for issues of hygiene, health and safety. Indeed, behind my desk proudly hangs a certificate confirming my own membership of the Royal Institute of Public Health & Hygiene.

We have an ‘open-door policy’ to inspectors, not only because we are obliged to, but more importantly because we have nothing to hide, and actually take great pride in the appearance and overall cleanliness of our Bodega. OK, we will never be perfect, but we certainly strive toward that goal.

A few days ago a couple of inspectors arrived from our local Xunta, and whilst I know that we are obliged to respect them, I’m afraid that on this occassion I will make an exception.

It has always been my understanding (mainly from my experiences in the UK) that there should be at least some spirit of mutual co-operation between an inspector and the local propietor. In addition, I believe that they should at least be seen to behave in a fair and reasonable manner (unless of course they uncover a serious danger to health and/or well-being).

So, the two men made their inspection of our business, and upon completion informed us that we would have to replace the entire ceiling of our pressing room, and that the work would have to be completed within a month or they would close our cellar. Indeed they added, seemingly with great glee, that they had already closed two other cellars earlier that week!

Now, you should take into account that our pressing room is only used once a year, for a period of about 10-14 days during harvest, and that it is completely isolated from the rest of the cellar. It has the original ceiling which was constructed 25 years ago, and it goes without saying that it does not really pose any immediate risk of contamination to our wine making process.

In my opinion, any reasonable person might have said “please have the ceiling replaced before your next harvest, and we will come back in August to re-inspect” – but no amount of reasoning appeared to change their stance, and their gun was pointed squarely at our temple. We even tried to plead poverty, citing the global recession, and that we needed to preserve our cash reserves, but they stubbornly insisted… 30 days or face closure!

I can only assume they were having a bad day, or pehaps their boss had told them that they had not achieved their ‘business closure’ quota for the month…….

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