Iceland has been told to improve its controls on animal by-products by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) added the country had made progress in other areas covered by past audits. An updated country profile summarizes Iceland’s system of official controls in the food and veterinary sector.

As part of a general review audit in November 2020, ESA assessed how Iceland has followed up and implemented changes based on 97 recommendations made between February 2016 and March 2020.

While Iceland had made good progress on the majority of recommendations, three concerning official controls of animal by-products not intended for human consumption had not been addressed.

ESA audits Iceland and Norway to verify that official control systems monitoring the safety of food and feed, animal health and welfare are in compliance with European Economic Area (EEA) standards.

Examples of areas to improve
Action had been taken on 52 of the 97 suggestions and 38 were still in progress.

An audit on hygiene in milk and meat products in October 2019 made nine recommendations with action on most still ongoing. One is verifying that examination for Trichinella only takes place in a designated laboratory.

Another was ensuring that only those qualified are appointed as official veterinarians and they are suitably trained, including practical training, for at least 200 hours before starting to work independently.

A third was making sure that national reference laboratories (NRLs) include coordination of the activities of official labs responsible for analysis of samples in their area of expertise and organize testing between the official national labs.

Work on two suggestions from a visit to evaluate official controls on the production of ready-to-eat food are in progress. The first deals with checking firms collect the correct number of units to make up a sample for Listeria monocytogenes analysis and the second is ensuring when authorities identify non-compliance, they take action to ensure the operator fixes the situation.

An audit dealing with the organic sector in late 2019 made 11 recommendations. Some judged to still be in progress are ensuring that all relevant operators are subject to the control system, making sure checks are effective and when non-compliances are found appropriate measures are taken.

An evaluation on the control of foodborne zoonoses, focusing on the implementation and effectiveness of national Salmonella programs took place in Iceland from December 2020 to February 2021.

A remote audit on residues of veterinary medicinal products, pesticides and contaminants, in live animals and food of animal origin occurred this past month.

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