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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Food chain more and more of interest for criminals
Since 2013, EU Member States together with non EU countries Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, exchange information and cooperate in matters where they are confronted with violations of the food chain legislation of cross-border nature. It helps the EU Member States and other European countries to work in accordance with the rules laid down in the Official Controls Regulation.
The so-called EU Food Fraud Network (FFN) facilitates assisting and coordinating communication between competent authorities and transmitting and receiving requests for assistance in these matters. The liaisons bodies are required to exchange information necessary to enable the verification of compliance with EU agri-food chain legislation with their counterparts and, in certain cases, with the Commission, where the results of official controls require action in more than one country.
With the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1715 new rules for the functioning of the AAC system within the general information management system for official controls (IMSOC) are now in place. The AAC system will now be fully integrated into the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed by the end of 2020 and will also extends notifications to all areas of the Official Controls Regulation (e.g. animal health, plant health, animal welfare). This new system (iRasff) enables the efficient sharing of information and allows swift reaction when risks to public health and other non-compliances are detected in the food chain.
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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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