Plant Harmful organisms in the EU – Annual report 2014

Article 16 (1) and (2) of Directive 2000/29/EC, requires that Member States immediately notify the European Commission and other Member States, of the presence or appearance of harmful organisms found on their territory or part of it, as well as the measures taken to eradicate or avoid the spread of the harmful organism concerned.

This is required whether the harmful organisms are regulated (specifically listed in European Union (EU) legislation) or not. The European Commission analyses and reports on these notifications on a continuous basis and provides monthly reports on notifications received to the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, section Plant Health, in order to assist risk management decisions at EU level.

This report provides an overview of the notifications received from Member States in 2014, as well as the main trends in the period 2010 to 2014.

The total number of notifications received annually has remained relatively stable since 2010. In 2014, a total of 220 notifications were received from 27 Member States. Approximately two thirds of these related to regulated harmful organisms. 19 were updates to previous notifications.

Some of the notifications received in 2014 give rise to concern because of the seriousness of the particular harmful organisms and because of their first finding or their spread in the EU territory. Some of these harmful organisms are currently non–regulated in the EU. However, because of the potential risk they present, they are listed in the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation Alert list, i.e. identified as good candidates for a Pest Risk Analysis.

At EU level, actions have been planned or are being taken with a view to addressing these risks. As in previous years, the number of notifications varies significantly between Member States which could reflect a different interpretation of Member States’ obligations pursuant to Article 16 (1) and (2).

Furthermore, despite some improvement compared to previous year, notifications still present a consistent lack of certain information which hinders the risk management decision process and capacity to have a clear picture of the effectiveness of phytosanitary measures implemented and of the status of the different harmful organisms in the EU. The adoption of Decision 2014/917/EU in December 2014, which sets out detailed rules for the implementation of Article 16 (1) and (2), combined with the development of a web-based notification system (EUROPHYT) and a common protocol for notifications, are expected to foster the harmonisation of practices between Member States. This should help timely decisions at EU level for an increased level of protection of the EU territory against phytosanitary risks.

In 2014, a large proportion of the outbreak notifications (72%) either did not make any reference to the source of the infestation or stated that it was unknown. Out of the 201 outbreak notifications, only 57 provided information on the possible source of the infestation. As regards movements within the EU, infested planting material is often considered as the likely source of the infestation.

Between the new risks identified the well known Xylella fastidiosa in coffee plants was the most dangerous. Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium listed in Annex IAI, was first found in the EU in 2013, in the province of Lecce in Italy where a sudden decline of olives was observed. This finding was closely followed up by the Commission in consultation with the Standing Committee, and EU emergency measures were adopted in February 2014. In addition, a Commission audit was carried out to the affected area in February 2014, followed by 3 further audits since then to assess the situation and control measures implemented by the Competent Authorities. Amongst other exchanges of information with Italy, three notifications were received in 2014 in which Italy reported new vectors, new host plants and the extent of the infestation in the Lecce region (see also section 4.2.1). Regarding the findings on Coffea plants referred to in section 4.2.1, an import ban on such plants from Costa Rica and Honduras has been introduced with Commission Implementing Decision 2015/789/EU to protect the EU from further introductions from these origins.

For more information see also the EU Commission infographic.

Food recalls in EU – Week 12 – 2014

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

– Allergens: undeclared celery in frozen sweet potato burgers and vegetable burgers, following consumer complaint. Origin Estonia, notified by Estonia, distributed also to Finland;

Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in farmhouse cheese with red culture, following company’s own check. Origin Germany, notified by Germany, distributed also to Austria.

We have also three recalls, following information for attention and information for follow up notification:

Foreign bodies: dead insects in breakfast cereals, following a consumer complaint. Origin France, notified by Greece;

– Mycotoxins: Ochratoxin A in crackers, following company’s own check. Origin Serbia, notified by Slovenia;

– Allergens: undeclared gluten in glutenfree organic sweet lupine flour, following an official control on the market. Origin Germany, notified by Germany, distributed also to Austria and Italy.

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

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in raw milk cheese, following company’s own check. Origin France, notified by France, distributed also to Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland;

– Industrial contaminants: benzo(a)pyrene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in smoked sprats, following an official control on the market. Origin Latvia, notified by Hungary;

– Mycotoxins: Ochratoxin A in sultanas, following an official control on the market. Origin Turkey, notified by Germany, distributed also to France;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: too high count of Escherichia coli in organic mussels, following company’s own check. Origin Ireland, notified by France.

Regarding border rejections we have, among the others, Salmonella spp. in frozen poultry meat preparation from Brazil and in dried pet food from China, Salmonella Hadar in frozen turkey meat preparation from Brazil, aflatoxins in roasted pistachios from Turkey, high count of Enterobacteriaceae in ice cream from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli in frozen boneless beef meat from Argentina, dead insects and excrements of insects in almond kernels from the United States, too high content of colour E 124 – Ponceau 4R / cochineal red A in strawberry flavoured syrup from Israel, benzalkonium chloride (BAC) in fresh eddoes from Costa Rica, histamine in chilled tuna from India, poor temperature control of chilled fish from Senegal, mercury in frozen snapper from New Zealand, cadmium in frozen small squids from China, absence of health certificate(s) for rice from China.

For feed, we don’t have any relevant notification this week.

For food contact materials we have border rejections for migration of chromium from dies for meat grinder from Hong Kong and from barbeque tooling set from China. Migration of manganese from BBQ trays from China.

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