According to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) 2010 Annual Report, EU border rejections have increased consecutively over the last three years – something which has been attributed to the implementation of new food import regulations.
The RASFF, which provide European food safety authorities with the ability to exchange information in response to serious risks detected in the international food sector.
The report stated that border rejections in 2010, of which 34% were accounted for by mycotoxins, were increased through new strict border controls in regards to food of non-animal origin, such as nuts from China and Iran.
According to the report, growth in border rejections is largely down to “strengthening of border controls as regards food of non-animal origin.”
“The increase can probably be attributed to the rise in notifications for products found to be unfit for consumption because of spoilage of hygienic failure, but also, the implementation of a Regulation imposing reinforced checks for a list of foods of non-animal origin from outside the EU,” added the report.
The overall number of notifications in 2010 in RASFF rose to 8,582, of which 5,224 were follow-ups and 3,358 were original.
Of these original notifications, 592 were food and feed alerts, 1,188 were information and 1,578 were border rejection notifications – an overall increase in original notifications of 2.3% on 2009 results.
Follow-up notifications also saw an increase of 11.6%, and the overall number of notifications increased by 7.8%.
Among these alerts were the presence of pathogens, allergens, mycotoxins and heavy metals.
Despite the rise in border rejections, two-thirds of all 2010 alerts notifications – reports of food or feed already on the market which pose a serious risk and require immediate action – are still related to products originating in the EU.
EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli believes that notification figures show a high level of efficiency in the RASFF system.
He said: “RASFF’s 2010 annual report serves as yet another proof of the efficiency of the EU’s alert system for food and feed. As the recent E.coli crisis has shown, the necessary information must be disseminated rapidly enabling authorities to withdraw dangerous products from the market once they have been identified.”
“Of course, there is always room for further improvement. Lessons will thus be drawn from the E.coli crisis, to help us further improve the use of our alert and response system.”