Seafood imports to Norway from non-EU countries mostly safe

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The majority of seafood imported to Norway complied with food safety rules, according to a new report.

The report summarizes the monitoring program for seafood imported into Norway from countries outside the European Union and the European Economic Area in 2020.

Samples were taken at Norwegian border inspection posts and the Marine Research Institute carried out the analytical work on behalf of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet).

A total of 91 samples were examined for microorganisms and unwanted chemicals. The coronavirus pandemic led to a decrease in seafood imports in 2020, resulting in a reduced number of samples taken compared to 129 in 2019, according to the report.

Test results
In 2020, eight samples contained unwanted microorganisms or showed trace elements or persistent organic pollutants (POPs) exceeding the respective maximum levels.

The sampling took into account the import volumes, the results of previous surveillance, the geographical origin of the samples and the information from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

Listeria monocytogenes was qualitatively detected in four of 57 samples, with quantitative measurements revealing that all were less than 10 colony forming units per gram. These were two samples of Pangasius fillets from Vietnam, a fillet of rainbow trout from Peru and an imitation of shrimp dumplings made from toothfish from Thailand.

All tests for Salmonella, Vibrio, norovirus and hepatitis A were negative while two samples for E. coli were below the limit of detection.

Four yellowfin samples were analyzed for added carbon monoxide and found to be compliant. Twenty samples were selected for histamine analysis and all measured values ​​were below the maximum level.

A sample of dried anchovy from Vietnam and squid muscle imported from New Zealand exceeded the maximum limit for cadmium. A sample from Uruguay was above the limit for mercury.

POPs were measured in 30 seafood samples and only one was identified as non-compliant due to PCDD / F and DLP levels.

Animal audit in Norway
In the meantime, an audit of official controls in Norway for live animals and animal products has revealed some shortcomings in the system.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority remote audit took place from February 22 to March 5. He focused on the effectiveness of controls for residues of veterinary drugs, pesticides and contaminants in live animals and animal products.

Recommendations include improving the sampling strategy to detect residues and ensure that any sampling is unexpected. Norway has submitted a corrective action plan to respond to the suggestions.

“The combination of announcing official control visits in advance, of not always sampling the matrices recommended by EURL most likely to detect certain substances during the longest period after treatment and of sampling at the ‘Slaughterhouse rather than on-farm (when sampling is not routine, don’t expect the sampling event) collectively reduce the chances of detecting nonconformities,’ the report says.

The audit team found that the receipt of samples to laboratories is sometimes delayed, so that analytical results are not delivered quickly. This would delay follow-up actions if a non-compliance is detected.

Tracking the results of nonconforming tests usually involves written correspondence between managers and herd owners with no on-site visits or repeated sampling deemed necessary. Non-compliant results are not considered a risk factor in planning for subsequent department-level residue monitoring to help target sampling.

Norway plans to change the instructions to make it clear that sampling must be done unannounced. When the notification is necessary for practical reasons, it should never state that samples will be taken. Further changes will ensure the sampling of residues from emergency slaughter animals and modified matrices in the sampling plan to detect certain substances during the longer post-treatment period.

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