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Norway admits responsibility over insufficient food contact material controls

By Mark Astley , 16-Jul-2012
Last updated the 16-Jul-2012 at 12:50 GMT

Norway and other EFTA member states must adhere to EEA legislation to operate within the EU internal market.
Norway and other EFTA member states must adhere to EEA legislation to operate within the EU internal market.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) has admitted responsibility for its incompliance with European Economic Area (EEA) legislation on food contact material controls.

The country’s shortcomings were identified during a review conducted by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority, which monitors EFTA member state compliance with EEA rules.

The EEA enables EFTA member countries – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland - to participate in the European Union (EU) internal market without a conventional EU membership.

In its assessment, the EFTA Surveillance Authority recommended that the controls used in the country relating to the import, production and use of food contact materials should be tightened.

Despite holding its hands up, the NFSA has labelled the EEA legislation on food contact materials “complicated” and called for a “less is more” attitude.

Complicated legislation

“Yes, we admit that we are responsible for the poor review,” NFSA head of communications, Niklas Lynau, told FoodProductionDaily.com. “We are of course always disappointed with poor reviews. But we see that there is room for improvements.”

The EFTA Surveillance Authority urged the NFSA to step up its controls to bring them up to speed with EEA legislation, after it found that producers and importers of food contact materials in Norway carried out “very limited controls.”

“Yes we are making corrective action in line with the report. We will centralise the control and prioritise the control of producers and importers of food contact material in Norway,” said Lynau.

Despite acknowledging its shortcomings, the NFSA has criticised EEA legislation for being over complicated.

“There is an enormous amount of EEA legislation. And a lot of the legislation is very complicated. The legislation concerning food contact material is a good example of that problem,” added Lynau.

“The EEA legislation should try to follow the rule of ‘less is more’. That would make control easier and over all give better results.”

“Very limited controls”

As well as identifying the country’s “very limited controls”, the EFTA review found that those carried out in the country were not sufficient to ensure compliance with EEA legislation.

Of the importers and producers it visited, EFTA Surveillance Authority officials discovered that a large number were unable to present sufficient documentation as evidence for the safety of materials they held.

The report added that there has been no official sampling of food contact materials in the country, with the exception of samples taken during two EU coordinated surveys in 2007 and 2011.

“The overall conclusion was that the competent authority which is supposed to carry out these controls, actually had very few,” said EFTA Surveillance Authority internal market affairs directorate deputy director, Janne Britt Krakhellen.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has confirmed that the NFSA had begun corrective work in line with its recommendations, adding that it will re-evaluate the country’s compliance before considering further recommendations.

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