An audit looked at follow-up action by the competent authorities (CAs) on official controls for the safety of food of animal origin such as meat and meat products.
The FVO audit team visited eight establishments in five counties, two competent authority (CA) offices at county level and two mega stores in Bucharest to check labelling of meat and meat products at retail level.
Previous audit recommendations
Since an audit in 2012 progress has been made at central level and the standards of controls by the CCA have improved and are risk based and in accordance with written procedures.
However, controls by the local CAs remain weak: Relatively few non-compliances and shortcomings are reported, by the county CA or the on-site official veterinarians; follow-up to non-compliances identified by the CCA is generally sporadic and not well documented; supervision and checks to verify effectiveness of controls are weak.
The action plan from the Romanian authorities provided satisfactory guarantees to eight 8 of 11 recommendations and unsatisfactory response to the remaining three, which relate to co-ordination and cooperation between different services at county level, verification of the effectiveness of official controls and application of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based systems.
Several hygiene deficiencies were not detected by the county competent authority but were by the National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority (NSVFSA) auditor and/or by the FVO auditors during the on-site visits in June last year.
Some shortcomings were recorded by the county competent authority as having been rectified but were still present according to the FVO audit team.
FVO said the quality of the materials used during upgrading of three establishments was sub-standard leading to the appearance of serious maintenance problems after a relatively short use.
Condensation problems were found in five of the eight plants in areas where exposed products were stored or handled, which could lead to contamination.
Considerable water splashing on slaughter lines from hand held hoses was seen in three of four slaughterhouses. This could lead to cross contamination between carcasses or from platforms to carcasses.
“Controls at local level on hygiene requirements were not fully effective with some deficiencies leading to a potentially serious risk of contamination of the products. Some, but not all, of these deficiencies had been detected by the CCA,” it said.
The CA said the Inspections and Official Control Directorate (IOCD) is responsible for audit of food industry establishments approved for intra-community trade and for export to third countries.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, IOCD performed 20 red meat site audits within 10 counties to check they were in compliance with the food law.
Official controls in September and October on 124 slaughterhouses resulted in one being definitely closed, three temporarily suspended and 29 receiving written notifications.
HACCP-based systems were in place in all the establishments visited and testing for microbiological criteria was generally satisfactory, said FVO.
In one case where final products, including mechanically separated poultry meat were labelled with a storage temperature of -18°C the temperatures shown were considerably higher than -18°C (-12.6°C and -10.4°C respectively).
Some establishments visited, especially a slaughterhouse adjacent to the farm providing pigs for slaughter, had serious problem with flies entering production areas.