FVO finds ‘limited progress’ in Swedish audit

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

FVO said Sweden had, in several cases, failed to identify serious hygiene problems and failed to take corrective action on other occasions
FVO said Sweden had, in several cases, failed to identify serious hygiene problems and failed to take corrective action on other occasions

Related tags Official controls Listeria monocytogenes

There has been ‘limited progress’ since an audit in 2010 in Sweden with most corrective actions still recorded as being in progress, according to the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO).

The action plan from the competent authorities in response to the recommendations provided satisfactory guarantees to ten of eleven but an unsatisfactory response to the remaining one which related to testing of drinking milk for Listeria monocytogenes.

Although response to three of the recommendations was satisfactory, the FVO evaluation highlighted it would be desirable if the verification steps would be shortened.

In the latest draft Country Profile dated June 2015, corrective action is still recorded as being "in progress" in relation to four of 10 recommendations with recommendation seven missing.

FVO made the comments as part of an audit late last year to evaluate official controls related to production and storage of food of animal origin, in particular, meat and meat products.

It found official controls are carried out as foreseen in the risk based control plan but effectiveness in some cases was not fully satisfactory.

Controls led to recalls

The agency found sampling and testing for microbiological criteria were generally in line with requirements of Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005.

However, official controls (in line with Article 4(5) of Regulation (EC) No 854/2004) were not well implemented and failed to detect a number of significant shortcomings, found the audit.

In two establishments, results of the firm's own controls had led to the recall of products.

The competent authority had been informed and the recalled products had been destroyed.

The food business operators visited had all used external ISO 17025 accredited laboratories for microbiological testing and results were available. 

“In one establishment visited, the CA had noted that the FBO own controls for aerobic colony count in minced meat had frequently exceeded the process hygiene criteria set in Annex I, Chapter 2 of Regulation (EC) 2073/2005. However, there was no evidence of a CA follow-up in the subsequent official control reports seen.

“In two establishments visited, the sampling of ready-to-eat products for Listeria monocytogenes had not been carried out correctly as either the five sub-samples had not been taken or the individual samples had been pooled before laboratory testing. In one of the establishments visited, the CA had noted this as a shortcoming, but not in the other.”​ 

Maintenance and hygiene problems

All of the eight establishments visited had maintenance and hygiene problems to varying degrees.

“In one of the meat product establishments visited, where significant non-compliances were identified during the FVO visit, the report from the official controls carried out by the CA one month earlier stated that the controls had covered structure, rooms and equipment and that no shortcomings had been identified,”​ said the FVO.

“Some of the deficiencies seen (e.g. crossflows, flaking paint, rust and condensation) could lead to an immediate risk of contaminating exposed products.”

Maintenance and housekeeping of the freezer store rooms had been neglected at all sites and products and raw material (spices or additive mixes, or raw meat) with an expired “best before date” were seen in several establishments.

The National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) said it will take action on the performance of control at the regional level.

“The recommendations from FVO indicate that instructions are not followed fully and that planning of controls through PIMKO is not fully understood. The NFA management will call attention to that controls are to be carried out according to instructions,” ​said the agency in response to the recommendations.

“This includes highlighting that the planning of controls in PIMKO gives the inspector the area of control but that serious non-conformance in other areas cannot be unnoticed. 

“This also includes highlighting the measures available to use and that measures have to be taken on non-conformances.”

PIMKO is the NFA computerised control planning system (Prioriteringar Inom och Mellan Kontroll Områden) used to prioritise between different control areas.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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