Fish fraud and safety in EU

Deficiencies in food safety controls governing the production and sale of Irish fishery products have been highlighted in an audit by the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office.

coffs.harbour.trawlerThe audit, in May, included inspections of two fishing vessels, five landing sites and 11 facilities handling fishery products, as well as meetings with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Some 296,000 tonnes of fishery products were landed in Ireland in 2012. The audit noted that, between 2012 and 2013, there were six alerts to the international rapid alert system for food and feed involving Irish fishery products. Listeria was found in smoked salmon four times and once in crab, while there was also an alert about parasites in mackerel.

The audit team found that the official control system was not applied consistently.

“The control system presents some gaps with regard to registration/approval of cold stores, inspection of vessels, temperature recording devices, drafting and implementing food safety management systems . . .” it stated.

Cold storage

The audit team found that although two cold stores used for fishery products had been approved by the Department of Agriculture, the approval did not include the storage of fishery products. Also, the approval conditions were not satisfactory because they did not require a temperature of -18 degrees.

The authorities had not inspected some premises handling fishery products as often as stipulated. This was explained by “staff constraints”.

The cold stores and processing establishments inspected were found to have broadly met the hygiene and structural requirements.

“However, one establishment could not be considered compliant with EU requirements. There were structural deficiencies … and it was in a poor state of maintenance,” the report stated.

It found shortcomings in other establishments, such as storing exposed and packaged products in the same room and a lack of temperature-recording devices in some cold stores on vessels.

The audit made six recommendations, including the regular inspection of all fishing vessels.

It said authorities should ensure all food business operators maintained procedures based on HACCP principles and that facilities comply with requirements such as the use of temperature control devices in cold stores before being approved.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time