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Good status for imported seafood

Foto: Helge Skodvin

Seafood imported to Norway in 2015 was of overall good quality and rarely exceeded the applicable maximum limits for contaminants and infective agents.

In 2015, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority took 110 samples of seafood imported from countries outside the EU/EEA area. All animal products imported from third countries (countries outside the EU/EEA) must be approved by a veterinary border control station before they can be brought into Norway. NIFES has analysed the samples for undesirable substances, microorganisms and parasites.

‘With just a few exceptions, the quality and safety of imported seafood is generally good,’ says Bjørn Tore Lunestad, senior scientist at NIFES.

Maximum limits exceeded in a few cases

One scampi sample from Bangladesh and one sample of a processed seafood product from Thailand contained high levels of coliform bacteria (intestinal bacteria).

No bacteria such as Salmonella or Vibrio were found in any of the samples, but Listeria was found in one sample of Blue Grenadier from Malaysia and in a sample of tuna from Thailand. In both these samples, the amount of bacteria was below the applicable maximum limit. Parasites were found in 14 per cent of the samples, but they were dead and thus did not represent a risk of infection.

An indication of use of illegal pharmaceuticals was also found in a sample of Pangasius from Vietnam.

‘If the results of the analyses show that the applicable maximum limits have been exceeded, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority is notified,’ says Lunestad.
Eighty-four samples were studied for heavy metals and organic environmental toxins. Two samples exceeded the maximum limits: squid from Argentina and a processed prawn product from Thailand.

Control of goods from outside the EU

Norway is obliged to carry out veterinary border controls of goods imported to the EU/EEA area from countries outside this area, known as ‘third countries’. Veterinary border control is intended to uncover goods of poor quality or that contain microorganisms, parasites or undesirable chemical components (heavy metals, organic pollutants or pharmaceutical residues that exceed the applicable maximum limits) that pose a risk to food safety.

On assignment for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, NIFES is responsible for carrying out analyses and professional assessments and for preparing annual reports for the part of this work that concerns seafood.