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purification centres; analytical and legal validity of samples; coordination between Competent Authorities) and one is no longer applicable.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.

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Contaminants and crab meat

Subject: Standards for the mitten crab

In large parts of the Netherlands it is forbidden to catch the mitten crab due to supposed risks to public health (from dioxins and PCBs, amongst other things). At present there is only a European standard covering the white meat of the crab, as a result of which the Dutch Government was able to introduce its own catch ban based on the brown meat. In all other EU Member States, the brown meat is not taken into account and the crabs may be caught. With no clear European standard for all edible parts of the crab at present, there is also no level playing field.

1. Does the Commission agree with me that the current situation, whereby there is no clear standard covering all edible parts of the mitten crab, is undesirable?

2. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reportedly looking into the desirability of standardisation in respect of all edible parts of the mitten crab in connection with food safety. When does the Commission expect a definitive decision in this regard? Is standardisation a given in time?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

Taking into account the different interpretations with regard to the part of crabs to be analysed for cadmium, it has been clarified that the maximum level established in the annex to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (1) in crabs and crab-like crustaceans applies to the muscle meat from appendages (legs and claws) only. For reasons of consistency, the part of crustaceans to which the maximum levels of dioxins and PCBs apply has been modified accordingly.

For consumers eating regularly the brown meat of crabs, an information note for the consumers has been made available on the website of the Commission (2).

Given the recent findings of dioxins and PCBs in mitten crab, an assessment is currently ongoing to verify if the usually consumed edible part from the mitten crab differs from the usually consumed edible part of other crabs and crab-like crustaceans.

In addition, Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU (3) recommends Member States to monitor the presence of dioxins and PCBs in mitten crab.

The outcome of the assessment and the results of the monitoring will enable the Commission to decide on the maximum level for dioxins and PCBs to apply in the case of mitten crab.

⋅1∙ Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (OJ L 364, 20.12.2006, p. 5).


⋅3∙ Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU of of 3 December 2013 on the reduction of the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in feed and food (OJ L 323, 4.12.2013, p. 37).

© European Union, 2014 – Source: European Parliament