Recent FVO report on bivalve molluscs and fishery products

Recently the Food Veterinary Office (FVO) spotted some problems regarding live bivalve molluscs in Greece and fishery products from Bangladesh.

GREECE – Live bivalve molluscs

The first report describes the outcome of a Food and Veterinary Office audit in Greece carried out from 14 to 24 October 2014, as part of its programme of audits for 2014.

The primary objectives of the audit were to assess whether the official controls of bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods are organised and carried out in accordance with the relevant provisions of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules and whether the control system in place for the production and placing on the market of bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods is in compliance with European Union requirements.

The audit also verified the implementation of the recommendations of the previous 2011 Food and Veterinary Office audit visit covering the same subject.

The current report concludes that considerable improvements have been made since the previous audit, however, the official control system in place covering live bivalve molluscs cannot yet be considered as fully in compliance with all European Union requirements. Important shortcomings are still present, notably related to the definition of sampling points for the collection of water for phytoplankton testing and live bivalve molluscs for biotoxins testing, the frequency of monitoring/testing of live bivalve molluscs for one group of toxins (Paralytic Shellfish Poison) and the absence of demonstration of the efficiency of the purification systems.

Of the twenty recommendations of the 2011 audit, ten can be considered as addressed, three partially addressed, six not addressed (monitoring of biotoxins (for Paralytic Shellfish Poison); decisions taken after monitoring; additional monitoring requirements; purification centres; analytical and legal validity of samples; coordination between Competent Authorities) and one is no longer applicable.

BANGLADESH – Fishery products

This report describes the outcome of a Food and Veterinary Office audit in Bangladesh carried out from20 to 30 April 2015, as part of its programme of audits in third countries.

The objectives of the audit were to evaluate whether the official controls put in place by the competent authority can guarantee that conditions of production of fishery products in Bangladesh destined for export to the EU are in line with the requirements laid down in EU legislation and in particular with health attestations contained in the certificate and to verify the extent to which the guarantees and corrective actions submitted to the Commission services in response to the recommendations of the previous Food and Veterinary Office fishery products report of 2010 have been implemented and enforced by the competent authority.

The report concludes that improvements have been made since the last audit and in principle, the current organisation of the competent authority and its documented operational procedures provide for an acceptable official control system for fishery products which is implemented in a satisfactory way.

However, certain deficiencies in their implementation (i.e. temperature controls, structural standards of freezer vessels; lack of histamine, dioxin/PCBs and additives testing; maximum limits for cadmium) do not offer the necessary guarantees that fishery products intended for EU export fully respect the requirements defined in the health certificate for imports of fishery products intended for human consumption as set out in the model defined in Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005.

FVO audit – Post slaughter traceability issues in Luxembourg

An audit to Luxembourg was carried out from 25 November to 4 December 2014. The main objective of the audit was to evaluate the operation of official controls over the traceability of meat (meat of domestic ungulates, poultry, lagomorphs and game meat), minced meat, mechanically separated meat (MSM), meat preparations, meat products (hereafter referred to as meat and products thereof), and composite products containing meat and products thereof and other ingredients.

Particular attention was paid to the traceability, labelling and identification systems of meat and products thereof, and to composite products containing meat and products thereof and traceability of quantities of each ingredient used.

The Competent Authority (CA) responsible for official controls in the scope of the audit has been designated in compliance with Article 4 (1) of Chapter II of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004. The CA is still in the process of amending the National Food Law of 1953 in order to ensure that appropriate action is taken and applicable sanctions are imposed and enforced when non-compliances are identified, as required by Articles 54 and 55 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004. Within the scope of the audit, the official control plans are implemented as foreseen and are carried out in accordance with documented procedures. Official controls cover identification, labelling and traceability.

However the limited controls on additives, labelling and composition, the lack of systematic control of quantitative traceability or procedures for an in depth verification of food business operators’ (FBOs) traceability procedures and the lack of the possibility to impose administrative sanctions are undermining the effectiveness of official controls.

The CA’s control results for the selected samples indicated non-compliances, but some significant non-compliances related to traceability, labelling and/or the use of additives were not detected. While the system of official controls includes verification of FBOs’ compliance with traceability, application of identification marks and labelling, it is not sufficiently developed. Several deficiencies had not been identified during official controls, in particular, verification of the correctness of the information and content on the label, links between different traceability documents and comprehensive control on the use of ingredients additives and/or spices.

Here you can check the competent Authority answers to the Food Veterinary Office recommendations.