Report: Iceland needs better on-farm food safety

Iceland is one country that I’d love to go to. Between the landscape and the music of Bjork, it seems like a cool place to visit. Except, according to a report from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) on-farm food safety in Iceland isn’t great. EFTA officials visited Iceland in March 2014 to assess the regulatory environment as well as implementation of food safety strategies. The EFTA folks deemed in their report that the food safety system for growing vegetables was insufficient. 936full-bjork

From the report:

Regular official controls of the on-farm packing of primary products under the scope of this mission are carried out regularly and are risk based. However, no regular controls have been carried out with regard to the growing and harvesting of primary products in Iceland.

The majority of the producers visited used biological pest control methods, and only occasionally used chemicals. Nevertheless the producers that did use chemicals did not keep any records of the use. This shortcoming had been identified by the competent authority during previous inspection, however it had not been followed up on with a request for corrective actions. It was also noted that only one of the establishments visited had in place documents that indicated how the activities carried out in relation to the production were performed in line with good manufacturing procedures (GMP) and general hygiene provisions.

One producer of sprouts visited had in place records of incoming consignments, including LOT numbers, as well as analytical results of samples from the seeds taken by a competent authority in another EEA State, were available. However, a copy of the import certificate for the seeds originating in a third country did not accompany the consignments of seeds originating from a third country.

One establishment growing cucumbers used a private water source for irrigation. This water source was not controlled by the municipality, and the establishment did not carry out checks on the water, except for conductivity. 

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.