Poultry issues across Europe led to a large number of alerts recorded by the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), according to its annual report, released this week.
The report shows that a total of 3,832 notifications of food or feed risks were reported to the European Commission during 2017. Of these, 942 were classified as ‘alert’, indicating a serious health risk for which rapid action was required.
The types of risk mostly concerned salmonella in poultry meat as the most frequently reported issue in food checked at the EU border and mercury in swordfish in food checked on the EU market. Only a small percentage of the notifications in 2017 related to feed (6%) and food contact materials (3.1%).
However, the Commission reported a high number of notifications related to fipronil residue in eggs due to the illegal use of this substance as a biocide. It added that the issue resulted in the most intensive exchange of information in the history of the RASFF and it helped to trace and remove the affected eggs from the market.
EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said: “For almost 40 years now, this alert system has been a key tool to ensure that food put on the market in the EU is safe, can be traced, and be quickly removed from the shelves if need be. The fipronil incident has led us to propose ways to further strengthen the system, making it more equipped to fight against fraud through coordinated actions by food operators and Member States’ authorities in this area. Most of the improvements and concrete measures that Member States committed to are well on the way.”
The full report is due to be presented to the EU AGRIFISH Council in November.