Food and feed safety alerts decline, says EU report

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety

RASFF charts the food and feed alerts in the EU
RASFF charts the food and feed alerts in the EU
The number of food and feed safety alerts has dropped for the first time in five years, according to an EU report.

The total number of RASFF notifications reached 8,797, representing a 3.9% decrease compared to 2011, according to the analysis of Europe’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

3,516 were original notifications (40%) and 5,281 were follow-up notifications (60%), representing a 7.8% decrease in original notifications and a 1.2% decrease in follow-up alerts.

526 alert notifications reported on serious risks found in products on the market, which marked a decrease of 14% compared to 2011.

Of the 3,516 original notifications transmitted in 2012, 332 concerned feed (9.4%) and 299 (8.5%) regarded food contact materials, figures which were in line with 2011 reports.  

Areas of concern

The report identified areas such as food poisoning, pathogenic micro-organisms and special occurrences such as alcohol adulteration in the Czech Republic.

For food poisoning 41 cases were recorded which was a 9% decrease in 2011. Examples included an alert from Belgium in January 2012 about an outbreak of salmonella Oranienburg caused by dried milk formula which sickened 16 people.

In October an alert from the Netherlands about Diarrhoeic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) toxins in mussels (Mytilus edulis) from Ireland, packaged in the Netherlands affected 132 people.

For poultry meat, the notification numbers increased from 42 in 2011 to 54 in 2012 with the increase likely coming from the introduction of Salmonella criteria in fresh poultry in December 2011.

Concerning pathogens in fish, the notification number has fallen dramatically for Listeria monocytogenes, from 60 in 2011 to 22 in 2012.

In September 2012, the Czech food safety authority informed RASFF of persons suffering from methanol poisoning after having consumed "on tap" spirits, with the adulteration of spirits resulting in 36 fatalities.

Notifications from countries such as Bulgaria (75), Denmark (130) Germany (362), Greece (66), Italy (517), Netherlands (173) and Poland (181) all dropped.

However, Belgium (143), France (275), Norway (61), Sweden (95) and Switzerland (20) all reported higher notifications.

RASSF future

Almost 50% of the notifications in 2012 related to food and feed rejections at EU borders due to the food safety risk, according to RASFF.

RASFF is an IT tool that facilitates cross-border information between national food safety authorities and plays a role in ensuring food safety for Europe.

The commission also said it was planning to extend the scope of RASFF to the fight against food fraud.

The horse meat scandal did not fall within the reporting period of the annual report.

Tonio Borg, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said: “RASFF is now an indispensable tool to respond to, and mitigate, food safety situations in the EU, since vital communication is swiftly exchanged to protect European consumers.” ​ 

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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