FSA Report 2016- Food Integrity
The number of incidents investigated by the UK food safety agency declined last year, according to an annual report.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland were notified of and investigated 1,514 foods, feed and environmental contamination incidents in the UK last year, compared to 1,645 in 2014. The FSA also sent 337 notifications to the European Commission, via the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). Pathogenic microorganisms top contributor The four largest contributors to recorded incidents were pathogenic microorganisms (18%), allergens (14%), chemical contamination (12%) and residues of veterinary medicinal products (8%). FSA said the number of notifications related to an issue will depend on the level of testing and investigation. This is influenced by changing concerns and priorities as new issues emerge and are managed.
Allergen notifications rise
Allergen incidents increased from 89 in 2013 to 206 in 2015 which may be related to new rules on providing allergen ingredients information from December 2014. Paul Beardshaw, Client Manager for FoodChain ID Europe Training and Events, said RASFF hazard category allergen incidents have risen by 79.32% since 2013. “This rise may be partially explained by new regulation (EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011) being introduced in December 2014. However, there was a 35.19% rise between 2013 and 2014, before the legislation was induced. “This indicates a substantial gap in the knowledge around allergen food safety and labelling requirements in the food industry.” Beardshaw said often recalls due to undeclared allergens are labelling mistakes, rather than issues of food contamination. “This can be an unnecessary expense, and a formidable threat to brand reputation for companies not labellingknown allergens in their product. “Food businesses should be vigilant in educating their staff on the shop floor in line with following QMS systems and HACCP principles, as well as ensuring that marketing teams are aware of EU labelling requirements in regards to allergens and free from declarations.” More than half of the incidents were reported by local authorities (409), EU Member States and the European Commission (213) or central government bodies (210) and industry reported 154.
Food Fraud incidents decline
The number of adulteration/fraud incidents fell from 69 in 2014 to 58, which was welcomed by Justin Ross, Sales Manager for FoodChain ID Certification Europe. “This demonstrates that efforts to reduce food fraud in reflection to the Elliot Report’s (2013) findings are working. The decrease in reported food fraud cases could be due to the introduction of the BRC Agents and Broker’s standard, which promotes transparency through the whole supply network.” Ross said the number of RASFF reported food fraud incidents is still way higher than would be expected given the heightened awareness of food integrity issues in industry. “There are still many Agents and Brokers trading without certification, and until manufacturers and ingredient suppliers demand this certification, as many retailers demand food safety certifications, then we will continue to see an unnecessary amount of food fraud incidents.”