RASSF 2012: annual report published

Here you can find the annual report on RASFF (Rapid Alert System for food and feed).

Outside the Berlaymont building of the Europea...
Outside the Berlaymont building of the European Commission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can read all the complete statistics, but here I just want to stress a few points:

1. The total notifications number (8.797) is decreasing (- 3,9 % from 2011). The alerts for serious risks found in products on the market were 526 (-14% from 2011).

2. The total number of border rejections (1.715) is nearly the same than the total number of alert notifications and informations (1.717). This number suggests a great attention to the border controls.

3. The European Commission intent, following the horse meat scandal, is to empower the RASFF system as a tool against the food frauds and to extend the cooperation to the RASFF system to third countries. It will be interesting to see how they will proceed.

The worst case handled in 2012 seems to be the following: because of the presence of methanol in “on tap” liquor from unknown origin, in Czech Republic died 36 persons this year.

On 8 September 2012 the Czech RASFF contact point submitted a RASFF news regarding methanol poisoning after consumption of “on tap” liquor sold in small shops and stands in the region around Ostrava.
The product was unlabelled and supplied “in bulk” in plastic barrels. The origin of the product could not be identified. The case was under investigation by the police and by the customs administration.

The public was immediately warned by the media and by local municipal offices. Three persons had died and another five became seriously ill. In the days that followed unfortunately more intoxications were reported and the death toll rose quickly. The levels of methanol were so high that the contamination could not have been caused by bad distillation but rather by deliberate adulteration. The public was urged not to consume any spirits as a precaution and to dispose of any liquor that could be contaminated. As more cases were reported, Czech authorities decided to take more drastic measures. Consumption of liquor with more than 20% alcohol was forbidden. Existing stocks of liquor were destroyed and replaced by new production bearing a new tax seal. Because people having stocks at home were still using them, some cases were reported even after the measures were implemented and the deads rose to 36.

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