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Audit finds gaps in Icelandic control system

Iceland has been told to strengthen official controls on food of non-animal origin by way of a unit of theEuropean Free Trade Association(EFTA).

An audit in March found it had been not guaranteed that consignments of products are identified and presented for official controls. This implies non-compliant feed and food of non-animal origin entering Iceland from other countries could possibly be placed on the marketplace.

Iceland has a framework for official controls and, if products are presented, then documentation, identity and physical checks are completed good requirements.

The audit covered products of non-animal origin (PNAO) such as for example berries, nuts, teas and vegetable spreads and 10 recommendations were made.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) audits Iceland to verify that official control systems monitoring the safety of food and feed, animal health insurance and welfare come in compliance with European Economic Area (EEA) standards.

Maintaining EU rule changes

The audit found a delay in changing Icelandic laws to reflect amended EU rules, which sets the frequency of checks on certain products from some countries and so are changed every half a year.

Iceland isn’t an EU member state so rules usually do not apply from exactly the same date. Officials said these were focused on implementing EU rule changes as fast as possible but translation sometimes caused delays.

In some instances, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) authorized release of consignments before laboratory results were available. This escalates the possibility that unsafe food will undoubtedly be put on the marketplace, said auditors.

The audit team noted twice that for PNAO entering Iceland from non-EEA countries at the mercy of increased official controls, samples have been taken for aflatoxins, however they were cleared before lab results were available. MAST said using one occasion it had informed the operator never to place the merchandise available on the market until results were available.

Cooperation between MAST and Iceland Revenue and Customs didn’t ensure the mandatory controls were performed on consignments, as a substantial section of shipments at the mercy of stricter official controls or emergency measures was not notified and checked.

MAST had requested the customs agency update its database on controlled goods because of changes in EU regulation only twice even though legislation was amended five times before 2 yrs.

U.S. peanut butter example

Several consignments of food of non-animal origin at the mercy of official controls were found to possess entered Iceland since 2019 without having to be pre-notified in the Trade Control and Expert System New Technology (TRACES NT) system as required.

Icelandic officials said prior notifications had improved and letters will be delivered to importers to see them of pre-notification rules.

One product have been imported eight months before and was listed on a customs declaration as requiring increased official controls. This was not identified by MAST so no follow-up action have been taken.

Predicated on an interview having an operator, peanut butter they imported from america at the mercy of import checks had not been controlled in 2020 and 2021. The operator had not been aware of the necessity to notify in TRACES the import of the product however they have been using TRACES NT for products of animal origin.

Since January 2022, MAST has made arrangements to make sure presentation of relevant consignments for checks. Due to the timing and need for the changes, the audit team cannot establish if the system works in the long run.

The laboratory that analyzes examples of products at the mercy of official controls sends them abroad to an exclusive lab for pesticide and mycotoxin analysis. This web site had not been designated being an official laboratory to handle such analyses, tests and diagnoses. These shortcomings may compromise reliability of the analysis and stop authorities from taking action regularly, said auditors.

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