FVO Report – Sweden official controls over meat traceability and food frauds

The audit to Sweden was carried out from 14 to 24 April 2015. The main objective of the audit was to evaluate the operation of official controls over the traceability of meat (meat of domestic ungulates, poultry, lagomorphs and game meat), minced meat, mechanically separated meat (MSM), meat preparations, meat products (hereafter referred to as meat and products thereof), and composite products containing meat and products thereof and other ingredients.

Particular attention was paid to the traceability, labelling and identification systems of meat and products thereof, and to composite products containing meat and products thereof and traceability of quantities of each ingredient used. The official control procedures require all establishments to be controlled, at least every five years, in all areas of applicable legislation. Risk based controls are split between the different inspections/audits that take place during the five year period. In the current five year official control plan traceability is scheduled to be covered twice.

The CCA is currently implementing actions in relation to traceability following the horse meat scandal and the discovery of certain food fraud in Sweden. These actions aim to increase the awareness of FBOs and officials in charge of controls. They concern the following areas:

  • creation of a food fraud unit;
  • specific training for staff to new control methods (180 inspectors on training);
  • identification of non-registered FBOs;
  • revision of the Swedish food act to re-enforce its efficiency, particularly concerning penal sanctions;
  • joint NFA-Stockholm municipality project to improve traceability controls and avoid overlapping (to be carried out between May and September 2015).

The Swedish CCA has already drawn certain lessons from the recent meat scandals and is undertaking specific actions to increase the efficiency of the control system. Significant work remains to be done.

In all the establishments visited, the food business operators stated that a traceability system was in place. However, the evaluation of these systems revealed a less positive picture concerning traceability in general and quantitative traceability in particular. In one cold store a robust traceability system was already in place. Two establishments were making good progress towards implementing a good system but the others still had significant progress to make. Two establishments had yet to start work on implementing a traceability system.

At the start of the audit, the FVO audit team chose 14 different food (meat based) samples at retail level. The CCA was asked to carry out a quantitative traceability of these samples in co-operation with the FBOs concerned. These exercises were far from successful: out of 14 samples, the CAs and the FBOs concerned could only establish 4 complete chains of traceability supported by the documented evidence. In the other cases significant documents relating to traceability were missing.

The FVO audit team also paid attention to the traceability and the use of additives in meat preparations and meat products. In general the situation was satisfactory but certain misuses were noted in some establishments. Nitrites and phosphates are allowed in “traditional products” which, in the absence of specific national rules/guidance, has the potential to include any pork or beef meat injected with curing solution (including in the initial phase of the maturing process).

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Swedish CA with a view to addressing the deficiencies identified during this audit.

FVO Report – Latvia – Post slaughter traceability of meat and meat products

The audit to Latvia was carried out from 1 to 12 December 2014. The main objective of the audit was to evaluate the operation of official controls over the traceability of meat (meat of domestic ungulates, poultry, lagomorphs and game meat), minced meat, mechanically separated meat (MSM), meat preparations, meat products (hereafter referred to as meat and products thereof), and composite products containing meat and products thereof and other ingredients. Particular attention was paid to the traceability, labelling and identification systems of meat and products thereof, and to composite products containing meat and products thereof and traceability of quantities of each ingredient used.

The Competent Authorities (CAs) responsible for official controls in the scope of the audit have been designated in compliance with Article 4(1) of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 and within the scope of this audit, Union legislation is transposed, where applicable into national legislation.

Within the scope of the audit, the official control plans are implemented as foreseen and official controls are carried out in accordance with documented procedures. The CA controls did not include systematic controls on quantitative traceability (quantities of meat and products thereof and other ingredients, received, used, dispatched and in stock) or an in-depth verification of Food Business Operator’s (FBO’s) traceability procedures.

While the routine CA controls found some non-compliances regarding traceability, labelling and use of additives, the controls did not detect a number of more serious, systemic deficiencies. The CA control results for each of the 14 samples taken at retail level at the start of the Food and Veterinary Office’s (FVO) audit indicated non compliances related to traceability, labelling and/or use of additives. The CA control results indicated that Regulation (EU) No 931/2011 was not implemented correctly in many cases.

In one establishment, the product labels for wild game meat contained misleading information for the final consumer and traceability was not guaranteed. The CA initiated immediate corrective actions, including product suspension.