FVO Report – Sweden official controls over meat traceability and food frauds

The audit to Sweden was carried out from 14 to 24 April 2015. 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 official control procedures require all establishments to be controlled, at least every five years, in all areas of applicable legislation. Risk based controls are split between the different inspections/audits that take place during the five year period. In the current five year official control plan traceability is scheduled to be covered twice.

The CCA is currently implementing actions in relation to traceability following the horse meat scandal and the discovery of certain food fraud in Sweden. These actions aim to increase the awareness of FBOs and officials in charge of controls. They concern the following areas:

  • creation of a food fraud unit;
  • specific training for staff to new control methods (180 inspectors on training);
  • identification of non-registered FBOs;
  • revision of the Swedish food act to re-enforce its efficiency, particularly concerning penal sanctions;
  • joint NFA-Stockholm municipality project to improve traceability controls and avoid overlapping (to be carried out between May and September 2015).

The Swedish CCA has already drawn certain lessons from the recent meat scandals and is undertaking specific actions to increase the efficiency of the control system. Significant work remains to be done.

In all the establishments visited, the food business operators stated that a traceability system was in place. However, the evaluation of these systems revealed a less positive picture concerning traceability in general and quantitative traceability in particular. In one cold store a robust traceability system was already in place. Two establishments were making good progress towards implementing a good system but the others still had significant progress to make. Two establishments had yet to start work on implementing a traceability system.

At the start of the audit, the FVO audit team chose 14 different food (meat based) samples at retail level. The CCA was asked to carry out a quantitative traceability of these samples in co-operation with the FBOs concerned. These exercises were far from successful: out of 14 samples, the CAs and the FBOs concerned could only establish 4 complete chains of traceability supported by the documented evidence. In the other cases significant documents relating to traceability were missing.

The FVO audit team also paid attention to the traceability and the use of additives in meat preparations and meat products. In general the situation was satisfactory but certain misuses were noted in some establishments. Nitrites and phosphates are allowed in “traditional products” which, in the absence of specific national rules/guidance, has the potential to include any pork or beef meat injected with curing solution (including in the initial phase of the maturing process).

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Swedish CA with a view to addressing the deficiencies identified during this audit.

Food recalls in EU/Week 41

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we have five recalls from consumers in EU in the alert notifications:

– Biocontaminants: histamine in canned anchovies in olive oil, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain (via Netherlands), notified by Malta;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes in organic cooked ham and mortadella, following company’s own check. Origin Italy, notified by France, distributed also to Austria, Germany and Hong Kong;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes in organic soft white cheese, following an official control on the market. Origin Denmark, notified by Denmark, distributed also to Germany, Sweden and United Kingdom;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Campylobacter in mixed baby leaves, following company’s own check. Origin Denmark, notified by Denmark, distributed also to Germany;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella Dublin in raw milk cheese, following company’s own check. Origin France, notified by Denmark.

Between the information for attention, followed by a recall from consumers:

– Pathogenic micro organisms: Salmonella enteritidis in chicken breast fillets, following an official control on the market. Origin Poland, notified by Denmark.

Between the alert notifications, followed by a withdrawal from the market of the product, we find:

– Heavy metals: mercury in frozen swordfish, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Spain, distributed also to Italy;

– Organoleptic aspects and food additives and flavourings: abnormal smell of and undeclared sulphites in desiccated coconut, following consumer’s complaint. Origin Malaysia (via Romania), notified by Hungary, distributed also to Slovakia;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: too high count of Escherichia Coli in live clams, following an official control on the market. Origin Italy, notified by Italy, distributed also to Spain;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: possible presence of Bacillus anthracis in beef, following an official control on the market. Origin Poland (raw materials from Slovakia), notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes in pate with riesling wine, following company’s own check. Origin France, notified by France, distributed also to Luxembourg;

– Pathogenic micro organisms: Salmonella enteritidis in chilled yellow chicken, following company’s own check. Origin France, notified by France, distributed also to Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Amongst border rejections we have:

– aflatoxins in groundnuts from China and India (via Egypt) and in whole nutmegs from Indonesia;

– cadmium in frozen mussels from Chile;

– Norovirus in in frozen cooked whole white clams from Vietnam;

– poor temperature control – rupture of the cold chain of frozen jumbo squid from Peru and of frozen fish, crustaceans and molluscs from Mozambique;

– prohibited substance nitrofuran (metabolite) furazolidone (AOZ) in frozen shrimps from India and nitrofurazone (SEM) in frozen catfish from Vietnam;

– E 452 – polyphosphates unauthorised in preparation of surimi with Pacific Pollock from the United States;

– dithiocarbamates in vine leaves in brine and vine leaves from Turkey;

– dithiocarbamates and iprodione in dragon fruits from Vietnam;

– unauthorised substance permethrin in mint from Morocco;

– monocrotophos and acephate in frozen okra from India;

– omethoate and dimethoate in fresh peas from Kenya;

– unauthorised substance dichlorvos in dried beans from Nigeria;

– triazophos in yardlong beans from Cambodia;

– high content of iodine (3200 mg/kg – ppm) in dried seaweed from China;

– chickpeas from Argentina infested with insects.

For feed, we have border rejections for Salmonella spp. in roasted guar meal 40% from India and dried beet pulp from Ukraine infested with moulds.

For food contact materials we have a border rejection for migration of manganese from barbecue plates and grids of enamelled iron and strainers, and migration of nickel from corkscrew from China

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