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Food Safety: Poor controls on shellfish production in Iceland



The production and the placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs (shellfish)  harvested in Iceland was not in conformity with several of the requirements listed in the EEA legislation[1] This is the main conclusion of the report issued by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) today. 

The ESA inspectors observed serious weaknesses in the official controls of the Icelandic competent authority and severe shortcomings at food business operators:

-         shellfish had been placed on the market without being checked for pectenotoxins and yessotoxins, and with
          only limited checks for amnesic shellfish poison

-         shellfish had been placed on the market without being checked for all the bacteria and contaminants required
          by the EEA legislation;

-         in some cases shellfish was harvested from areas which were not open for harvesting and placed on the 
          market without further checks;

-         in some places water used for the processing of products had not been analysed as required by the
          legislation on potable water;

-         the hygiene in some of the establishments visited was not up to standard and their own control systems were

In the light of the serious weaknesses identified by the mission team in the official controls implemented by the Icelandic competent authority and the severe shortcomings at food business operators' level, ESA concluded that there is a significant risk to the health of the final consumer, as a result of being exposed to biotoxins, microbiological and chemical contaminants. 

The competent authority's (MAST) reply to the draft report and the notification of planned and immediate corrective actions are annexed to the final report.  

The report is the result of a planned mission to Iceland from 21 June to 1 July 2010 related to the safety of food of animal origin with emphasis on production of shellfish, sea snails and sea urchins (live bivalve molluscs). In the report, a number of recommendations are made by ESA to MAST, highlighting the requirements set out in the EEA legislation. 

Read the final report and the reply from MAST here.


For further information, please contact: 

Mr Ólafur Valsson
Deputy Director
Internal Market Affairs
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 68

[1] Regulations (EC) 852/2004, 853/2004, 854/2004 and 882/2004 applicable in Iceland from 1st May 2010, as part of the so called “Food Hygiene Package”.

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