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.

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.