An audit earlier this year looked at traceability, labelling and identification systems of meat and composite products containing meat and traceability of quantities of each ingredient used.
AECOSAN (The Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition/Agencia Española de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición) was the central competent authority.
Recent events, including the horsemeat scandal, have highlighted deficiencies in control of traceability of meat on a European Union (EU) wide basis, said FVO.
Weaknesses in food business operators’ (FBOs) compliance with responsibilities and official controls, in particular traceability systems (qualitative and quantitative) and labelling requirements, were identified in several Member States.
Shortcomings in follow-up
An FVO audit team noted shortcomings in follow-up of deficiencies in some establishments visited despite systems being in place.
For example, in one establishment, the CA had noted shortcomings in relation to traceability and critical control points but had not followed these up during follow-up visits although they were significant.
In another plant, no deadlines were given in the control reports seen and although shortcomings had been noted in relation to traceability, the CA had not required any actions to be taken.
In one meat processing establishment, there was dirt, rust, flaking paint in different production and storage areas causing a potential risk of contamination of meat.
FVO audit team identified that the FBO traceability system was not efficient.
In another establishment, the flow of products, storage of raw materials and ingredients, the hygienic operation and the cleaning of facilities was not at an acceptable standard.
The animal by-product storage area was not under control: containers were stored outdoors at ambient temperatures and were not identified or sealed.
The CA identified the FBO traceability system was not reliable as a result of the sample exercise.
FVO audit team selected some meat products at retail level and asked the CA to trace back these 14 samples to the slaughterhouse of origin based on available documentation.
The CA was requested to provide documented evidence on the accuracy of the labelling in relation to ingredients and composition.
For one sample, the CA found that the FBOs’ traceability system was not reliable despite CA controls as well as those from an external control body being favourable.
For another sample, the CA did not identify the use of MSM, declared in the FBOs’ production records as “BAADER” meat and the raw meat on delivery documents was described as minced meat.
The CA identified eight samples as compliant with labelling requirements. The non-compliances were mainly related to ingredients (not corresponding to the actual use), and missing or wrong information on the use of allergens.
The audit team selected four out of fourteen dossiers and in one, the label indicated it was produced from poultry and turkey meat, but it also contained pork meat as a result of rework batches.
Rework batches contained certain additives, including ones with a maximum level use, which were not specified from the label.
However, the label did indicate the product could contain certain allergens and these would have originated from the rework batches. These shortcomings were not noted by the CAs.
“The results of the traceability exercises conducted indicate that the official controls are partially effective, with the results that some serious and/or systemic deficiencies are not detected and acted upon,” said the audit report.
“The system in place is not well developed or implemented concerning quantitative traceability and controls on the use of additives, enzymes and flavourings.
“…non-compliances were detected in nearly all cases concerning traceability, labelling and/or use of additives. Particular problems were noted where meat/products was moved between establishments belonging to the same group or when traders were involved in the supply chain.”