FVO Report – Italy deficiencies of official controls on milk and milk products

The following FVO report stress several and persistent profiles of non compliance of the Italian official controls system on milk and milk products: the recommendations made in 2010, 2012 and 2013 were not properly addressed.

The audit took place in Italy from 9 to 20 March 2015 in order to evaluate the official controls related to production and storage of milk and milk products, and the follow-up action taken by the competent authorities (CAs) in response to the relevant recommendations made in the previous audit reports.

Three Regions (Abruzzo, Puglia and Piemonte) were visited. Official controls are carried out frequently according to control plans, are risk based and well documented. However, the establishment reports contain very little relevant information and many deficiencies are overlooked. In addition, there is very little effective follow-up. Communication within local CA units remains poor. In the eight establishments visited, among the deficiencies found by the Food and Veterinary Office audit team, only a few had been identified and documented by the CA.

Audits (Article 4.6 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004) are carried out by central and Regional levels. The reports of these audits contain findings on non-compliances and systemic problems. Of the seven establishments visited (milk collection centre not included) in three Regions (six provinces) from the point of view of structure, maintenance, equipment, cleanliness and hygiene of operations, – four were satisfactory (with different levels of remarks and deficiencies) and three were unsatisfactory. There was no immediate public health risk. Serious deficiencies in official controls were observed on dairy holdings visited.

Raw milk quality standards (Section IX Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004): National derogations notified to the Commission for 2008 -2013 for all milk are still in place for sheep and goat milk. Food business operators (FBOs) take samples but these are not always analysed and laboratory performance is not always reliable. The CAs are not always notified of non-compliant results and there is no system in place to ensure notification – CA does take action when informed. There is no national system for official monitoring of FBO own checks related to raw milk parameters.

Residues: There were procedures in place for inhibitor controls in all establishments visited. However, out-of-date kits were in use in three establishments. The requirement to maintain records of treatment with veterinary medicines on milk production holdings is not enforced.

A number of recommendations have been made to the CA with a view of addressing the deficiencies identified during this audit. At least five of these or very similar recommendations have already been made in the Audit Report DG(SANCO)2010-8502, 2012-6333 and 2013-6875 but have not been properly addressed or implemented.

Food recalls in EU/Week 40 – 2014

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:

Allergens: undeclared soia in pasta e wholemeal pasta moose-shaped, following company’s own check. Origin Sweden (via Germany), notified by Spain, distributed also to Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, United Kingdom and United States;

– Allergens: traces of egg in chocolate fudge cake kit, following a consumer complaint. Origin United Kingdom, notified by Ireland;

Biotoxins: Diarrhoeic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins – okadaic acid in canned mussels, following company’s own check. Origin Spain, notified by France;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in soft white brie cheese made from goat milk, following company’s own check. Origin Denmark, notified by Denmark, distributed also to Sweden;

– Pesticide residues: fenamiphos in red grapefruits, following company’s own check. Origin Zimbabwe (via South Africa and the Netherlands), notified by Denmark, distributed also to Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Norway.

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

Food additives and flavourings: undeclared sulphites in soup stocks, following an official control on the market. Origin China, notified by United Kingdom.

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

– Composition: unauthorised substance 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (nor-DMAA) in food supplement, following company’s own check. Origin Canada (via the Netherlands), notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Austria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland;

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments in potato starch, following a consumer complaint. Origin Poland, notified by Poland, distributed also to Germany;

Heavy metals: mercury in frozen blue shark slice, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Italy;

– Heavy metals: mercury in food supplement, following an official control on the market. Origin Hong Kong (China, via the Netherlands), notified by Sweden.

– Packaging defective/incorrect: bulging packaging of canned olives, following company’s own check. Origin Spain, notified by Italy:

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

Pesticide residues: carbendazim, omethoate, dimethoate and thiophanate-methyl in grapes, following company’s own check. Origin Tunisia, notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Poland and Russia.

Amongst border rejections we have:

– aflatoxins in peanuts from China and in apricot kernels from Uzbekistan, via Afghanistan;

– too high content of sulphite in dried apricots from Turkey and in sliced coconut from Lebanon;

– unauthorised substance dichlorvos in dried beans from Nigeria;

– cinnamon from Indonesia and salted horse casings from Argentina infested with moulds and insects;

– residue level above MRL for oxytetracycline in frozen seafood mix and frozen squid and shrimps skewer from Vietnam;

–  triazophos, acetamiprid, and imidacloprid in tea from Hong Kong;

– benzo(a)pyrene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in non-refined soybean oil from Ukraine;

– prohibited substance nitrofuran (metabolite) nitrofurazone (SEM) in frozen catfish from Vietnam.

For feed, we have border rejections for aflatoxins in birdfeed groundnuts from Brazil and Salmonella spp. in fishmeal from the United States. 

For food contact materials we have a border rejection for migration of primary aromatic amines from nylon serving tongs from China.

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