According to an annual report published recently, the number of notifications in a Spanish food alert system went down in 2022.
The 880 notifications in the Coordinated System for the Rapid Information Exchange of Information (SCIRI) are declining from the record high of 1,081 alerts in 2021.
The Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) coordinates national actions related to food products and food contact materials that may pose a risk to public health. The agency said the fall in notifications could be linked to the reduced influence of COVID-19 pandemic measures and fewer ethylene oxide alerts.
Fewer alerts and information notifications were made in 2022, and the 617 notices were mainly split between animal and plant-origin products, with food contact materials in third.
Based on food product type, fish and fish products were top followed by meat products and food supplements.
Most notifications for live bivalve mollusks did not require immediate action by authorities because the products were no longer thought to be on the market.
Chemical hazards were behind 297 alerts, followed by biological hazards with 181. Compared to 2021, the former decreased while the latter increased.
Salmonella went up and remained the top biological hazard with 79 mentions. Listeria took second place with 31, followed by norovirus, histamine, and E. coli. Salmonella Enteritidis was the top type mentioned, with Typhimurium in second and Infantis in third. Three histamine alerts included sick people.
Salmonella Agona in cucumber affected 108 people, and Salmonella Ball was identified in ground (minced) meat with 54 patients. Two fell sick due to Salmonella in follow-on milk.
Other hazards and themes
Chemical hazards include additives, phytosanitary products, veterinary drugs, and heavy metals. Phytosanitary hazards accounted for 30 percent of notifications with 89 cases, which was down from 2021. Alerts were dominated by ethylene oxide and chlorpyrifos.
For mycotoxins, 22 notifications were recorded: 18 for aflatoxins, three for ochratoxin A, and one in which both were present. They were found in various products, such as dried figs and nuts. There was a significant decrease in additive notifications, especially for ascorbic acid, used mainly in fishery products like tuna to give it a red color. In 2022, 32 notifications were from foreign bodies such as metal, glass, and plastic.
A total of 53 food alerts related to the detection of different undeclared allergens have been processed by AESAN through SCIRI. Dairy caused the most, followed by nuts and sesame. Two highlighted incidents were traces of peanuts in soy lecithin and sesame in cumin.
More than 400 notifications listed the product origin as another EU member state, and in almost 200 cases, it was a non-EU country. For EU countries, France was top, Italy and Poland were joint second, and the Netherlands was third. China was behind most notices because of food contact materials. Second was India, with the United States in third and the United Kingdom in fourth.
Border rejections dropped to 255 from 324 in 2021. Many were related to fish products. Reasons for rejection included pathogens such as STEC, Vibrio cholera, anisakis, and insects in products. Morocco was the origin of the most notifications, followed by China, India, and Brazil.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)