EFTA identifies weakness in Norwegian audit

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

The audit was in Norway from 31 August to 4 September 2015
The audit was in Norway from 31 August to 4 September 2015

Related tags: Official controls

Norway must improve its import control system for food of animal origin, according to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

An audit assessed the system to verify the effectiveness of official controls on imports of products of animal origin.

It found a focus has been put mainly on quantitative data, useful for measuring efficiency, rather than qualitative data which could be more useful for effectiveness of the official controls.

Norway designated the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA/Mattilsynet) as the competent authority responsible for official controls of imports of products of animal origin.

Official control overview

The NFSA has a structure in place for training of Border Inspection Post (BIP) staff. However, the mission team noted the NFSA has limited overview of training of other NFSA staff involved in official controls on the market.

NFSA uses an electronic database to verify that departments carry out the planned number of inspections in a given sector of official controls.

The mission team noted the data reports seen, generated from these systems, mainly provided information of a quantitative nature, rather than on the content or quality.

Reports were of limited value to verify effectiveness of the controls, and more suited to verify efficiency, i.e. the number of controls corresponded to the number planned, said the audit.

“Although prerequisites essential for verification of the effectiveness of the import control system have been or are being developed, there is no operational system or procedures in place to ensure that the effectiveness of the official controls is verified...,” ​according to the audit report.

“In general the main indicators used by the NFSA to measure performance are quantitative and not qualitative, i.e. measuring efficiency rather than effectiveness of the official controls system.”

Verification activities

NFSA has developed an electronic database system to register non-conformities/shortcomings related to official controls and ensure follow-up.

The mission team noted that, although the system could potentially be a useful tool to e.g. ensure implementation of corrective actions, it was not yet in use by all units of the NFSA.

Concerning the follow-up of supervision audits at the BIPs, the reports provided identified shortcomings that were followed up by the NFSA head office towards the individual BIPs.

Limited evidence could be provided whether/how findings from these supervision audits were used to improve the import control system, other than at the individual BIPs, said the audit.

NFSA has structures in place which could be used to improve the import control system, found the audit.  

“However, the lack of procedures to gather information centrally, to review/analyse it and to evaluate if further actions are needed at national, regional or other administrative level, reduces the ability of the verification activities to identify areas for improvement as well as the ability of the activities to lead to improvement of the import control system.”

EFTA also said limited progress had been made in recommendations on the same subject but for other sectors.

Responding to the findings, the NFSA said it has established a working group to do a draft of procedure to verify the effectiveness of official controls in general. 

“The time schedule is not yet confirmed but we have an ambition to have the first draft before summer 2016. Otherwise, we have no comments [on the] contents of the report.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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