Food recalls in EU is back – Week 7/2016

Dear readers, the weekly articles about EU food recalls is back with a slightly modified format, to be even more immediate. January was an hectic period and I had big changes in my firm: that will lead to better organisation and an enhanced capacity to answer regulatory services requests, but it took me energy and time.

Soon you will have more information via the blog.

This week on EU RASFF (Rapid Alert System for food and feed) we can find the following relevant notifications:

1. Alerts followed by a recall from consumers:

  • Migration of melamine (3.1 mg/l) from melamine bowl from China, via Spain and via Italy, following an official control on the market. Notified by France, distributed also to Belgium, Luxembourg, Serbia and Slovenia.

2. Information for attention/for follow up followed by a recall from consumers:

None.

3. Alerts followed by a withdrawal from the market:

  • Listeria monocytogenes (210 CFU/g) in frozen olive focaccia brie oregano from Portugal, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to United Kingdom;
  • Metal particles (< 1 cm) in canned tortellini from Austria, following a consumer complaint. Notified by Austria, distributed also to Germany.

4. Seizures:

None.

5. Border rejections:

Country of notification Countries Concerned Subject Action taken
Denmark Denmark, Turkey (O) aflatoxins (B1 = 100; Tot. = 160 µg/kg – ppb) in hazelnuts from Turkey placed under customs seals
Germany Germany, Turkey (O) aflatoxins (B1 = 13.49 µg/kg – ppb) in roasted hazelnuts from Turkey re-dispatch
United Kingdom Brazil (O), United Kingdom aflatoxins (B1 = 13.9; Tot. = 15.7 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled groundnuts from Brazil use for other purpose than food/feed
Italy Italy, Turkey (O) aflatoxins (B1 = 15.3; Tot. = 16 µg/kg – ppb) in sweet apricot kernels from Turkey informing recipients
Slovenia Commission Services, Hungary, India (O), Slovenia, United States aflatoxins (B1 = 29.5; Tot. = 32.5 µg/kg – ppb) in nutmeg in shell from India, via the United States
Bulgaria Bulgaria, United States (O) aflatoxins (B1 = 3.3 µg/kg – ppb) in groundnuts from the United States placed under customs seals
France France, Turkey (O) aflatoxins (B1 = 3.3; Tot. = 24.1 µg/kg – ppb) in whole organic hazelnut kernels from Turkey return to consignor
Italy Egypt (O), Italy, San Marino (D) aflatoxins (B1 = 38.1; Tot. = 41.3 µg/kg – ppb) in peanuts in shell from Egypt placed under customs seals
Italy Egypt (O), Italy aflatoxins (B1 = 75.9; Tot. = 116.1 µg/kg – ppb) in peanuts in shell from Egypt placed under customs seals
Italy Azerbaijan (O), Italy aflatoxins (B1 = 9.5; Tot. = 10.2 µg/kg – ppb) in hazelnut kernels from Azerbaijan re-dispatch
Malta China (O), Malta aflatoxins (B1 = 9.8; Tot. = 12.0 / B1 = 4.5; Tot. = 5.6 µg/kg – ppb) in blanched peanuts from China placed under customs seals
Italy Italy, Turkey (O) aflatoxins (Tot. = 32.5 µg/kg – ppb) in shelled hazelnuts from Turkey official detention
Portugal Iran (O), Portugal, Turkey fenpropathrin (0.14 mg/kg – ppm) and ethion (0.024 mg/kg – ppm) and unauthorised substance propargite (0.030 mg/kg – ppm) in raisins from Iran, via Turkey re-dispatch
Italy Italy, Tunisia (O) hepatitis A virus (presence) in chilled clams (Ruditapes decussatus) from Tunisia destruction
Italy Italy, Tunisia (O) hepatitis A virus (presence) in chilled clams (Ruditapes decussatus) from Tunisia destruction
Italy Italy, Tunisia (O) hepatitis A virus in grooved carpet shells (Ruditapes decussatus) from Tunisia destruction
Italy Commission Services, Italy, Thailand (O) mercury (0.12 mg/kg – ppm) in canned cat food from Thailand import not authorised
Netherlands Brazil (O), Netherlands poor temperature control (-14 <–>-6 °C) of frozen salted skinless half chicken breasts from Brazil import not authorised
Italy Italy, Turkey (O) prochloraz (1.5 mg/kg – ppm) in pomegranates from Turkey
United Kingdom India (O), United Kingdom Salmonella (in 1 out of 5 samples /25g) in betel leaves from India import not authorised
Cyprus Cyprus, Ukraine (O) Salmonella (presence /25g) and Salmonella Senftenberg (presence /25g) in rapeseed meal from Ukraine official detention
United Kingdom India (O), United Kingdom Salmonella (presence /25g) in betel leaves from India import not authorised
Germany Germany, Thailand (O) Salmonella (present /25g) in frozen salted chicken breasts from Thailand re-dispatch
Slovenia India (O), Slovenia Salmonella Isangi (in 2 out of 5 samples /25g) in hulled sesame seeds from India placed under customs seals
France Brazil (O), France, Netherlands shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (stx1+, stx2- /25g) in chilled boneless beef meat (Bos taurus) from Brazil destruction
Bulgaria Bulgaria, China (O) spoilage of peanuts in shell from China infested with moulds re-dispatch
Spain Spain, Turkey (O) too high content of sulphite (2314-3399 mg/kg – ppm) in dried apricots from Turkey re-dispatch
Czech Republic Czech Republic, Vietnam (O) unauthorised substances carbendazim (0.25 mg/kg – ppm), hexaconazole (0.058 mg/kg – ppm), diafenthiuron (0.18 mg/kg – ppm) and chlorfenapyr (0.079 mg/kg – ppm) in fresh chilli peppers from Vietnam official detention

(Source: RASFF Portal)

Spicing up EU-Indonesia food trade relations – The EU adopts emergency measures for Indonesian nutmeg

Today we have a most welcome return on our blog: Francesco Montanari, food lawyer in Lisbon and senior associate at Arcadia International, examining the EU emergency measures imposed on Indonesian nutmeg import.

Early this January, the European Union (EU) has decided to step up the conditions for importing Indonesian nutmeg into its market. Nutmeg is a high-value dried spice that derives from trees of the genus Myristica, plants that typically grow in a few Asian countries. Nutmeg has been widely used in European cuisine since the Middle Age for various purposes. According to some sources, its value increased exponentially during the 16h century, when belief had it that it could help preventing the plague. Currently, nutmeg sourced from Indonesia accounts for nearly 80% of all EU imports of that product, with Netherlands, Germany and Italy being the three top importers.

Indonesian nutmeg has been already under EU surveillance for some time mainly because of aflatoxins contamination. Indeed, it has been subject to reinforced checks at EU borders in the context of Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 since July 2012. A relatively high number of notifications (20) reported by EU Member States’ control authorities through the Rapid Alert System for Feed and Food (RASFF) over the period 2009-2012, in addition to some shortcomings emerging from an audit performed by the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission had justified an increase in border surveillance back then.

Over three years later, non-compliance levels reported in relation to Indonesian nutmeg do not seem to have substantially improved. A quick search in the RASFF database, in fact, shows that the number of RASFF notifications concerning this product have not decreased over the last three years, accounting for 23 border rejections.

It is against this background that the European Commission has recently decided to stiffen the import requirements applying to nutmeg with Indonesian origin.

The Commission has done so by adopting Regulation (EU) No 2016/24 whose provisions amend and supplement, among others, Annex I to Regulation (EU) No 884/2014, an EU emergency measure setting special import conditions for a number of imports presenting a high risk of aflatoxin contamination.

Applicable as of 2 February 2016, the new import requirements applicable to nutmeg from Indonesia imply that, in addition to the obligation of pre-notify the arrival of their consignments, the concerned business operators will have to provide the control authorities at EU borders also with:

  • a valid health certificate verified, signed and stamped by an authorised representative of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture for food, attesting that the consignment in question has been subject to sampling and analysis in conformity with EU legislation; and
  • an analytical report detailing the results of the tests performed in the country of origin in compliance with the maximum levels set by Regulation (EC) No 1181/2006.

At their arrival in the EU, consignments will still be subject to 100% documentary checks by national control authorities and to a lower frequency (20%) in case of identity and physical checks. Business operators sourcing nutmeg from Indonesia should be aware that, under the import regime set by Regulation (EU) No 884/2014, identity and physical checks may be not always performed at EU borders, but, based on the choice made by each Member State, be carried out at designated premises located either at an external borders or in-land.

Whilst the introduction of stricter import requirements for Indonesian nutmeg may be justified in the light of the overall unsatisfactory compliance level observed over time, the impact that the newly introduced measures will have on the bilateral trade relations between the EU and the Asian country remains to be seen.

In fact, over the last few years, the EU has been particularly active in voicing its concerns over the compatibility of certain sanitary and phytosanitary requirements set by Indonesia with the applicable international trade rules (e.g. BSE, avian flu and import requirements for plants and plant products), although with limited success. This considered, the import conditions that the EU recently adopted for Indonesian nutmeg risk being an additional political irritant in the context of the already tense trade talks between Brussels and Jakarta.