Results of checks at the border on food by Belgian and Swiss authorities and French controls on seafood products have revealed varying levels of non-compliance.

In Belgium, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) inspectors were involved in controls coordinated by the police and customs. Road checks at the Dutch border between mid-April and mid-May looked at the transport and import of food, feed, and live animals.

Refrigerated trucks, vehicles transporting animals, and cars were checked. From 20 road controls and 621 vehicles, one or more violations were found in 112 vehicles.

Products and animals transported without a health certificate have been returned to the Netherlands. The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) is responsible for monitoring these non-compliances.

Almost 20 percent non-compliant
A total of 18 percent of vehicles checked were non-compliant in relation to food safety. This led to 112 reports and destruction of around 18 tons of seized food.

Most violations related to failure to comply with the cold or hot chain which can cause food poisoning for consumers. A lack of traceability data for transported foodstuffs such as no labeling or commercial documents was also a problem. In one vehicle, non-compliant foodstuffs were intended for a Belgian company that did not have FASFC approval.

In April, it was revealed almost 4,500 kilograms of food such as meat, fish, and cheese was confiscated by the Belgian food safety agency. In 2018, 591 roadside checks were done with an 11.5 percent rate of non-compliance and in 2019, 800 vehicles were checked with a 10 percent rate of non-compliance.

Swiss control findings
In Switzerland, almost a quarter of 428 samples in 2019 did not comply with the law.

A bitter gourd from Sri Lanka being checked by Swiss authorities

From official border checks on food of plant origin and everyday items, 100, or 23 percent, were challenged by food authorities compared to only 13 percent in 2018. After such a challenge, the costs of analyzes are invoiced to the establishments concerned and legal measures taken.

The Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) said the number of samples is too small to draw conclusions as to the conformity of all imported products. Samples were taken according to the risks and were targeted, which leads to higher rates of problems.

In total there were 11 campaigns. Twenty-five samples of protein powder from the United States were sampled for heavy metals, alleged minerals, and labeling with 19 found to be non-compliant. A total of 28 tests on food supplements from all nations for unauthorized substances and labeling uncovered 20 problems.

Spices from across the world were tested for Salmonella, irradiation, adulteration, and pesticides with issues in two of 36 samples. Pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables from Asia were the target in three control programs. Of 134 samples screened for around 500 residues, 29 were non-compliant but only one had levels that could pose a health risk.

In some chili samples, a high number of different residues of substances were found. In one, 35 different active substances were detected. Of these, nine exceeded the maximum residue limit.

Results on French seafood checks
Meanwhile, authorities in France have published findings of controls at seafood and freshwater product sites.

In 2018, 1,546 controls were done in 1,318 establishments by the General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) and at least one anomaly was noted in 53 percent of them compared to 47 percent in 2017. Checks led to warnings for 483 establishments and administrative action in 130 cases.

Issues involved the addition of water, the substitution of species, presence of unauthorized additives, or deficit in the measured net mass or quantity of ingredients lower than that labeled.

Hygiene monitoring of sites and foodstuffs, temperature controls, and expiry dates, were carried out during 537 visits and the non-compliance rate was 28 percent. Display of allergens was checked at 162 establishments visited with an anomaly rate of 57 percent.

Controls found some fishmongers have effective traceability but do not always correctly transmit the mandatory information on seafood to customers.

Absence or illegibility of information on the fishing area and the scientific name was frequently observed. This problem was less common but still an issue for the production method. Officials found problems with signs alongside products for sale were often due to a lack of training on all the varied information needed to be displayed by distributors at the retail stage and the frequency with which they need to be changed.

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