Histamine in tuna, Norway tackles fraud and Campylobacter warning

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Food safety 2016 Fraud

It is time again to dig out your preferred online translation tool, contact colleagues abroad or buy a phrase book as we look at news from food safety agencies wider than English-speaking ones.

The third of this series takes us to France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Brazil and Czech Republic.

Agencia Española de Consumo Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AECOSAN​) has said more than 100 people have been sickened by histamine from eating tuna.

Tuna was marketed by Garciden, based in Almeria​, and distributed at national and European level in France, Germany, Italy and Portugal. The company has yet to respond to our request for comment.

The production line was closed and affected lots were withdrawn by the company.

The alert covers all batches made from 1-5 May (identified by the last six batch number figures on the labeling: 170501; 170502; 170503; 170504 and 170505).

Italy reported a suspected foodborne outbreak due to tuna from Spain but it is unclear how many people are ill.

Moving on, more than 300 children were sickened after a meal at schools in Rouen and Bois-Guillaume in France​.

Investigations revealed a strong link to cheese but the origin of contamination was not revealed.

A separate incident which affected 41 children at Saint-Exupéry Elementary School in Cormeilles-en-Parisis is being investigated.

Honey and olive oil issues in Norway

Picture: iStock

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet​) found labelling issues with one in four honeys​ it checked as part of an EU program on food fraud​.

A total of 63 samples were analyzed and checked from manufacturers and importers or in stores across the country from 15 June to 15 July 2015.

It found 18 products had Norwegian origin, 22 from other countries and 23 had a mixture of honey from several different countries.

Eleven were not labeled in Norwegian, sugar was likely added in one of the imported products, incorrect botanical origin was suspected for 13 samples, incorrect geographical origin for two and three were of low quality to be sold to consumers.

Mattilsynet also found six out of 14 olive oils​ analyzed were not ‘extra virgin’, even though they were labeled as being so.

It worked with Tolletatens for the testing as part of Interpol and Europol's Operation Opson.

Olive oil was taken from supermarket chains Rema, NorgesGruppen and Coop as well as smaller importers.

Samples were taken and analyzed from February to April 2017. They were analyzed chemically and with a taste panel.

The agency acknowledged it was a small sample size but added considering olive oil is often a target for fraud it expected industry to pay closer attention to its quality than the results seem to show.

Operation Opson efforts

Seizure as part of Operation Opson in Lithuania

Lithuaniancustoms​ in December 2016 and March 2017 as part of Operation Opson​ seized children's toys and candy.

The products were marked with registered trademarks but were found to be made in violation of intellectual property rights and were destroyed.

Candy was recognized as unsafe because the product labeling failed to declare allergens.

Hazelnut products were the main focus of German​ controls within Operation Opson as authorities were aware of issues with such products.

Investigations looked at whether hazelnut products from Turkey, Georgia and Italy were manipulated by the addition of peanuts, cashew kernels or almonds and in three cases, tampering could be identified.

Of 1,300kg of roasted chopped hazelnuts from Georgia addition of peanuts up to 8% was detected.

In 500kg of hazelnut paste from Italy proportions of up to 45% of cashew kernels were found and for another consignment about 27% of almonds were determined.

Brazil meat and fish operations

The Czech Republic ​has put in place measures so all consignments of animal products originating in Brazil will only be introduced to the market after examination for Salmonella.

Arrival of all consignments of Brazilian food of animal origin will have to be reported by the consignee to the Státní veterinární správa (SVS).

Infringements of the regulations are subject to a fine of up to CZK 2m.

Increased checks follow findings from Operation Carne Fraca​ which indicated existence of a bribe payment scheme involving business and government inspectors who issued health certificates for food unsuitable to eat.

SVS has also found 60kg of frozen beef, pork and fish and chilled pork and poultry of unknown origin in the premises of SAPA in Prague.

Meat was not labeled, was not in the original packaging of the manufacturer or accompanied by proofs of origin, said the agency.

brazil Polícia Federal
Picture: Polícia Federal (Brazil)

Brazilian authorities have taken action to combat smuggling and fraud in shrimp and fish.

Operação Tripoli​ targeted the municipalities of Barra Velha, Piçarras, Penha and Itajaí.

They uncovered smuggling of shrimp from Argentina by truck and fraud and adulteration including addition of sodium tripolyphosphate to increase the weight and species substitution.

Sweden’s Campylobacter warning

The number of people who get sick by Campylobacter continues to be unusually high, according to statistics from Folkhälsomyndigheten​ in Sweden (National Health Agency).

Since June 2016, 100-300 cases have been reported a week. Investigations point to fresh chicken as the source.

The agency said the chicken industry has taken action but it doesn’t seem to have had a sufficient effect on the number of infections.

Livsmedelsverket is testing and analyzing chicken meat from stores.

The agency said if measures by the industry do not lead to fewer getting sick it might need to consider what more needs to be done.

More from Latvia, Portugal and Israel

Pārtikas un veterinārais dienests (PVD) in Latvia​ have found canned meat products not labeled or with inadequate labeling making it impossible to verify the origin after following up a Facebook post.

pvd latvia
Picture: PVD Latvia

Distributor SIA "Bauernhof" also had the incorrect registration to sell to consumers.

Inspectors removed 392 cans of lamb, 21 boxes of meat offal and 55kg of frozen sheep meat.

The Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica (ASAE) in Portugal​ has seized almost 11,600 bottles of wine in Bairrada, Anadia.

The action was taken for lack of registration as a preparer of sparkling wine and wines and lack of licensing of the premises where the wines were prepared.

ASAE is also working with the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) in Macou on food safety.

In October 2016, the Macao SAR Government signed a cooperation agreement on surveillance and monitoring of food with Portugal.

A meeting in May looked at more opportunities for Macao to participate in food safety workshops in the European Union and help on methods and equipment for testing food imported from Portugal.

The two sides also discussed establishing a project on comparison tests between labs in both places.

Israel’s​ Ministry of Health has warned about an increase in Salmonella enteritidis in ‎‎14 countries in Europe​ as well as Israel.

The agency said there was a ‘high probability’ that the source ‎of the bacteria is eggs but stressed no specific link has been identified. It added in Europe the source is probably eggs originating in Poland.

Samples have been sent to Europe to see if they ‎are the same bacteria and results will be known within a few weeks.

Argentina and Bulgariaaction

SENASA of Argentina​ has seized 500kg of animal products that were contaminated in the province of Chubut.

Authorities were carrying out routine checks when they detected the meat transported in the box of a vehicle was not suitable for consumption. It was seized and sent to landfill.

The Bulgarian​ Food Safety Agency has started a comparative analysis of the quality of food made by the same producer and offered in Bulgaria and different EU member states in Western Europe.

Analysis will first look at labels of the identical products before moving to a laboratory analysis. Results are expected at the end of June.

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