European meat plants posing 'avoidable risk' of disease
EWFC is calling for food safety regulations at slaughterhouses to be “re-evaluated in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic”
Consumers are being exposed to an “avoidable risk” of disease after a reduction of official controls in food inspections of pig and poultry carcasses across the EU, European meat inspectors have said. Diseased meat is being eaten by consumers in the UK and EU, including pus from abscesses and tuberculosis lesions from pigs’ heads, said the European Working Community for Food Inspection and Consumer Protection (EFWFC) this week. The EWFC represents EU meat inspectors in Europe.
In response to the claim, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the regulations for food safety had been developed to prevent meat that could be diseased or contaminated from reaching consumers. “If the FSA was aware of any breaches of these regulations it would be treated very seriously and we would take immediate action in response,” said a spokesperson.
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Commission: No mandatory front-of-pack labelling in the Farm to Fork
Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides scaled back the ambition of the EU’s new food policy during a meeting with agriculture MEPs on Monday (11 May), revealing that it will not provide a compulsory EU-wide nutritional food label scheme.
“The Farm to Fork (F2F) will be promoting harmonised labelling, but will not be mandating the type of labelling,” she told the agriculture committee (COMAGRI). She did added though that the upcoming Commission report on front-of-pack nutrition labelling will provide evidence on the need for harmonisation in this area, as under the current EU rules it is only voluntary.
According to Kyriakides, the considerable interest in foodstuff nutrient profiles has delayed the Commission’s action, but in the context of the F2F, the EU executive will come forward with a concrete response.
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Belgium food safety agency: Checks continue despite Coronavirus control measures
Almost 4,500 kilograms of food has been confiscated by the Belgian food safety agency (FASFC). The agency stressed it has continued efforts to protect public health since control measures for coronavirus were put in place in mid-March.
Vehicle inspections by a unit of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) have led to four vans being seized and the destruction of 4,450 kilograms of food such as meat, fish and cheese in the past week.
Most of the violations were because of non-compliance with temperatures required by the regulations. Transporting food in excessively high temperature conditions can lead to contamination and food poisoning for consumers, said officials.
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Listeria in frozen vegetables: how to reduce risks
EFSA has assessed the risks to public health from Listeria contamination of vegetables that are blanched – scalded in hot water or steam for a short time – before they are frozen. They conclude that the risks associated with the consumption of these products is lower than for ready-to-eat foods such as smoked fish, cooked meat, sausages, pâté, soft cheese – which are usually associated with listeria contamination.
Food business operators often blanch vegetables before freezing them because this stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavour, colour and texture.
EFSA’s experts identified relevant control activities that food business operators can implement to lower the risks of contamination of frozen vegetables. These range from cleaning and disinfection of the food producing environment to water, time and temperature control at different processing steps, and accurate labelling.
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Online marketplaces sell unsafe and illegal items
Six consumer groups from the BEUC network tested 250 electrical goods, toys, cosmetics and other products bought from online marketplaces such as Amazon, AliExpress, eBay and Wish. They selected the products based on possible risks and found that 66% of them fail EU safety laws with possible consequences such as electric shock, fire or suffocation.
The products failed safety tests because of a diverse range of issues. These include smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that do not detect smoke or carbon monoxide, toys that contain chemical levels 200 times over the limit and a power bank that melts during testing. In some scenarios this could put consumers in a life-or-death situation.
Although online marketplaces often seem to take down products when informed, they too often reappear1. One of the major problems is that marketplaces do not consider themselves to be liable for the safety of products sold on their platforms and therefore do not seem to sufficiently control the trustworthiness of sellers upfront.
The tests were conducted through the International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT) network, on behalf of a consortium led by Test Achats/Test Aankoop (Belgium) and which includes Altroconsumo (Italy), Consumentenbond (Netherlands), Forbrugerrådet Tænk (Denmark), Stiftung Warentest (Germany) and Which? (United Kingdom). DECO (Portugal) and OCU (Spain) are also publishing the results.
Products were first submitted to a visual inspection. For some this was enough to declare them unsafe. Take, for example, toys with loose components or hoodies for children with cords that are too long. Most products, such as a plastic doll with a sharp scent, warranted more research. This led products as diverse as jewellery, smoke alarms and Christmas tree lights to be tested in a lab.
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