Czech authorities have found instant noodle soups from Vietnam that were irradiated without declaring this on the packaging.

The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority (SZPI) carried out an inspection to see if producers and importers provided consumers with information on food treated with ionizing radiation.

Irradiation is a food decontamination technique and a 2011 European Food Safety Authority opinion found it can ensure the microbiological safety of foods. However, industry uptake has been limited because of perceived consumer concerns with the technology. Only dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings have EU-wide authorization but different products have national approvals.

Inspectors sampled foodstuffs which had no mention of irradiation on the label. EU rules state the words “irradiated” or “treated with ionizing radiation” must appear on the packaging.

Irradiated instant soups
The focus was on spices, herbal teas, instant soups containing a bag with spices, dried garlic, dried mushrooms and food supplements because these products had previously been found to be non-compliant.

Four out of 37 samples had been treated with ionizing radiation. They were seafood and pork instant noodle soups from Vietnam imported by the same company with best before dates ranging from January to October 2022.

Vietnam does not have any factories that are approved to import irradiated food into Europe.

This past month, the United Kingdom had an application for one of its sites to be an approved irradiation facility backed by the European Commission.

Foodstuff treated with ionizing radiation may not be imported from a non-EU country unless it has been treated in a plant approved by the European Union.

Synergy Health, located in Swindon, will be added to the list of permitted sites which includes Gamma-Pak in Turkey, Gamwave in South Africa and Microtrol Sterilisation Services in India.

Fishy findings
Meanwhile, inspectors at the Czech State Veterinary Administration (SVS) have uncovered the illegal sale of fish products on social media.

Picture: State Veterinary Administration

Officials found the distribution of fish in Prague and other regions. An operation this past December was carried out with police and involved a series of purchases by SVS inspectors. It was started after authorities received a complaint alerting them to the suspicious sale of food online.

A car used for transport was not equipped with freezing or refrigeration equipment so required temperatures for storage were not observed and some products had already thawed. The person responsible was not registered for such activities, so was not under veterinary supervision.

Inspectors found mainly smoked, salted and dried fish products that were not labeled so it was not possible to determine the expiry date or place of origin. More than 50 kilograms of products were destroyed.

The SVS said it was seeing more cases involving the purchase of food of dubious origin on social networks. The agency called on consumers to be vigilant, to buy food of animal origin only from registered retailers and to always ask for information on the origin and shelf life of food before buying.

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