Food safety authorities covering England, Wales and Scotland have opened a comment period on the rates of checks for selected food and feed of non-animal origin from certain countries.

Proposed amendments would apply a temporary change to official controls or special conditions on the entry into Great Britain of the selected products. Stricter checks have been suggested for enoki mushrooms from two nations because of Listeria as well as tahini and halva from one country because of Salmonella.

The comment period is for food and feed businesses in England, Wales, and Scotland, local and port health authorities, and other parties with an interest in food and feed safety. It is open until Aug. 28.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have reviewed current controls. Ministers will make risk management decisions based on FSA and FSS recommendations. It is anticipated that related legislation will come into force in early 2024. Changes do not apply in Northern Ireland due to the Windsor Framework rules.

List of possible amendments
The review found 20 new products that should have enhanced controls because of concerns they present a risk to public health. Stricter controls should be brought in for three products while another four should have reduced checks. Two products should be removed from the scope of controls.

Imports of high risk food of non-animal origin from certain countries can only enter Great Britain through approved Border Control Posts (BCP) where official controls are undertaken such as documentary, identity and physical examinations including sampling.

Enoki mushrooms from China and South Korea have been added to the list of controls at a frequency of 20 percent for identify and physical checks for Listeria.

Sesame seeds as well as tahini and halva from sesame seeds from Syria are now included with controls for Salmonella at a frequency of 10 percent.

Recent changes under EU rules mean consignments of tahini and halva from Syria entering Europe will be subject to identification and physical checks at a frequency of 20 percent.

Under UK plans, groundnut paste from the United States will be checked for aflatoxins at a rate of 10 percent. Groundnut products from Brazil and hazelnuts from Turkey have been delisted because of improved compliance.

Reduced checks are proposed for sweet peppers from China for Salmonella at a frequency of 10 percent, palm oil from Ghana for Sudan dyes at a rate of 20 percent and nutmeg from Indonesia for aflatoxin at a frequency of 10 percent.

Several modifications are suggested because of aflatoxins in spice mixes from Pakistan, groundnuts from India, Egypt, Gambia, Senegal, and Ghana, and melon seeds from Iran.

A number of changes are proposed because of pesticide residues in Granadilla and passion fruit from Colombia, bananas from Ecuador, oranges from Egypt, certain spices from India, some peppers from Kenya, and dragon fruit from Vietnam.

Mycotoxin data call
FSA and FSS are also requesting data on the levels of T-2 and HT-2 toxins in food and consumer exposure. T-2 and HT-2 are mycotoxins which mainly affect cereal crops such as oats, wheat, and barley. Presence is heavily weather dependent and can show large annual variability.

The agencies are gathering information on these mycotoxins so the contaminants can be reviewed and consumer exposure assessed. Data is wanted from throughout the cereals supply chain, from field to retail level.

Deadline for submission is Oct. 31, any data submitted will be available to FSA and FSS and could be used in the risk analysis process for these mycotoxins. 

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