Irish authorities have told a retailer in the country to recall all frozen food of animal origin that has been imported since early March.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) also ordered Metron Stores, which trades as Iceland Ireland, to recall implicated products from consumers.
The agency has advised people not to eat any imported frozen animal-based products bought from Iceland Ireland stores since March 3. Food of animal origin includes chicken, meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Enforcement action has been taken because of alleged breaches of food legislation and as part of an ongoing investigation. However, there have been no reports of illness associated with products from Iceland stores in the Republic of Ireland.
The probe also involves the Environmental Health Service of the Health Service Executive; the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority.
A lack of traceability
The DAFM border control post officials and Revenue Customs found undeclared frozen food of animal origin with no accompanying documentation imported by Metron Stores. This led to some consignments being detained and returned to Great Britain or destroyed.
Issues include inadequate evidence of traceability for imported frozen food of animal origin and incidents of non-compliance with relevant import control legislation.
Some frozen food has been imported into Ireland without pre-notification or completion of entry declarations and health certificates, said FSAI.
Affected products have not been subject to food safety controls, so officials said they could be unsafe to eat as they may not have been produced in line with food safety, hygiene and traceability legal requirements to protect public health.
Pamela Byrne, FSAI CEO, said the findings were “very serious” breaches of food law.
“In the absence of the company providing valid and correct traceability documentation as required by the law, we have to take a precautionary approach to best protect consumers, as we cannot be fully confident of the traceability and safety of these imported frozen foods of animal origin,” she said.
“It is the legal responsibility of any food business importing food into Ireland to make the correct import declarations for the food they are importing. All food businesses must also have full traceability information on the food they are importing, producing, distributing and selling.”
The FSAI has also informed the European Commission, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) about the incident.
Anjali Juneja, FSA director of UK and International Affairs, said it was in contact with FSAI and other relevant authorities to gather the facts.
“Based on the assurances we have received from Iceland Foods UK, which is a separate company to the one that operates in Ireland, there is not any evidence that the issue affects Iceland stores across the UK, however, we are in the process of verifying this. We remain ready to take any action needed to ensure that food being sold in this country is safe and what it says it is,” she said.
A European Commission spokesperson confirmed it had been informed by Irish authorities.
“The Irish authorities assured the Commission that all measures were taken to ensure consumer safety. Up to now no alert has been issued in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) which would be activated if the products were distributed to other member states. The recall is limited to frozen products distributed in Ireland.”
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