Special Edition: Track & Trace

Iceland to emphasise traceability following inspection

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Iceland needs to improve its control system on traceability according to findings of an inspection by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA).

The inspection in November and December last year looked at traceability, use of additives and labelling of meat and products containing meat.

Icelandic control measures are the responsibility of the Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) and Municipal Environmental and Public Health Offices (LCAs).

MAST said inspections were unannounced while audits were notified in advance to the food business operator.

The agency does not have a written procedure for managing withdrawal and recall of products.

The inspection report​ included recommendations to rectify shortcomings of the control system.

Traceability emphasis

Traceability will be emphasized in 2017-18 in relation to the focus on labelling in general, said the Icelandic authorities.

“Labelling of products during processing will be emphasized to ensure traceability through the whole procedure. Internal control in food establishments upon reception of raw materials, food contact materials etc. will be emphasized.

“In general, the labelling of beef and beef products is a part of continuous official control in establishments. The guidelines for labelling of beef will however be reviewed considering this recommendation.”

The inspection found that whilst Iceland has a system of official controls, it does not ensure all relevant meat establishments have been accurately identified and subsequently approved.

Ten food business operators were visited.

Quantitative and qualitative traceability in meat

They generally had traceability systems in place or under development, but not all could ensure ingredients used in production could be traced.

Not all food business operators had written procedures for traceability and labelling of products.

The inspection team noted that the packing date of the label did not always match the reality.

“In one establishment, the food business operator used the labelling date instead of the packing date. In a distribution centre, the food business operator could not link the packing date to the recorded reception date of raw materials, as there was no procedure defining a timeframe between receiving and packing.”

In two other sites, the food business operator could not provide any traceability information on unlabelled meat left from previous production days.

One factory produced a type of sausage for which the food business operator stated that the ingredients used could not be traced.

At another site, the food business operator could not trace the frozen minced meat used for the production of hamburgers.

In four establishments/retailers, the identification mark of the producer was missing or was wrongly applied in products intended for final consumers.

“In an establishment producing composite products, the LCA in a recent official control had identified a non-compliance in the label of a type of chicken pasta. The food business operator had decided that the label would be corrected once he would finish the stock of the old label. The competent authority did not take further action.”

In three sites visited, the activity codes in the published list of approved establishments did not correspond to the actual activities.

They were approved for codes corresponding to cutting of meat and production of minced meat and meat preparations; however, they were also producing meat products although they were not approved as processing plants.

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