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purification centres; analytical and legal validity of samples; coordination between Competent Authorities) and one is no longer applicable.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 report – Fishery product from Estonia

This report describes the outcome of a Food and Veterinary Office audit in Estonia carried out from 10 to 20 June 2014, as part of its programme of audits in Member States.

The objectives of the audit were to verify that official controls of fishery products are organised and carried out in accordance with the relevant provisions of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 and to evaluate whether the control system in place for the production and placing on the market of
fishery products is in compliance with EU requirements.

The report concludes that there is an organised and documented official control system in place which is in accordance with the relevant provisions of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004. In general, this control system is consistently and adequately implemented and covers the fishery products production chain.

Some shortcomings were identified in the establishment approval process.  Official controls are generally implemented in accordance with EU requirements. Nonetheless, certain weaknesses were identified in the control of fishing vessels and landing conditions (including organoleptic checks), HACCP evaluation and verification of food business operators´own-checks for some microbiological criteria.

Furthermore, although steps have been taken by the competent authority to strengthen the system of controls over Baltic Sea fish which may contain dioxins and PCBs above the EU maximum limits, some gaps remain in measures put in place and their implementation by some food business operators.

In the laboratory visited, methods used for official analyses are included in the scope of accreditation. However, deficiencies in validation and internal quality controls were noted in method for histamine analysis.