EU assesses produce and shellfish controls in Turkey

Two audits by the European Fee’s well being and security company have checked out checks on meals of non-animal origin (FNAO) and bivalve mollusks in Turkey.

A DG Sante audit on FNAO, in September 2022, made three suggestions. The main target was microbiological contamination of sentimental berries like strawberries, leafy crops similar to lettuce, and dry tomatoes for export to the European Union.

Meals security at major manufacturing is addressed by, and is dependent upon, good agricultural practices inspection and personal certification methods. Nonetheless, this doesn’t cowl small growers supplying export channels exterior the primary grocery store chains, and authorities don’t confirm measures to stop microbiological contamination.

Turkish officers mentioned to stop contamination of tomato, strawberry, and lettuce merchandise earlier than and through harvest, a number of provinces will likely be instructed to hold out official controls. Different steps embody inspection applications, coaching, audits, and sampling.

Throughout processing, official controls are in place. Nonetheless, auditors discovered shortcomings as some potential dangers usually are not coated. Authorities haven’t thought of the method of drying tomatoes in open fields in management plans, or the chance of Listeria contamination in operators dealing with merchandise meant to be eaten uncooked. These compromise the authority’s functionality to detect and rectify deficiencies or practices which will pose a threat to shoppers, mentioned auditors.

Vegatables and fruits usually are not a part of the annual nationwide monitoring program and official sampling for microbiological evaluation is simply carried out upon particular request or if there are complaints. The plan additionally doesn’t embody environmental samples for Listeria in such institutions. This limits the capability of official monitoring to offer invaluable info to meals corporations and authorities to deal with attainable contamination within the manufacturing and processing phases, mentioned auditors.

Following Speedy Alert System for Meals and Feed (RASFF) notifications, authorities applied a monitoring plan for Hepatitis A in dried tomatoes exported to the EU however no extra positives have since been detected.

Issues with mollusk controls
The second audit on bivalve mollusks had a distant half in October 2021 and an onsite component in Could 2022. It discovered progress had been made because the final go to in 2015.

Turkey can’t export stay bivalve mollusks to the EU however can ship frozen and processed ones. All consignments have to be examined at EU border management factors for E. coli if frozen and biotoxins for frozen and processed bivalve mollusks.

The audit revealed weaknesses in biotoxin testing, which may result in an underestimation of the variety of biotoxins in mollusks. An audit report discovered the investigation of unsatisfactory microbiological findings is inadequate, which might result in the misclassification of manufacturing areas and insufficient therapy of harvested bivalve mollusks. Incomplete sanitary surveys don’t be certain that sampling factors for microbiological monitoring are consultant of manufacturing areas.

Administration of re-opening manufacturing areas regarding fecal contamination standards is insufficient and would possibly end in unsafe merchandise reaching the market, mentioned auditors.

Following the extension of a ban on exporting stay bivalve mollusks to the EU, Turkish operators tried to adapt to ship frozen or thermally processed merchandise as a substitute. This led to using websites not ready for dealing with and processing such merchandise that had important structural shortcomings.

The audit group additionally famous operational issues similar to poor set-up and implementation of meals security stipulations, absence of chilly chain administration throughout processing, and a excessive threat of cross-contamination of the ultimate product. Some operators hadn’t utilized or validated thermal processes to kill microorganisms. Whereas corporations had meals security administration methods, they didn’t cowl all hazards and dangers.

Auditors mentioned there are main shortcomings in factories which raises meals security issues about merchandise exported from them.

“The truth that the systematic official inspections of processing institutions didn’t detect any of the numerous issues detected throughout this audit calls into query the power of the authorities to implement EU necessities. The absence of any procedures to confirm the effectiveness of official controls raises additional issues over the power of the authorities to acknowledge the weaknesses of their actions and their capability to enhance them.”

Prior to now few years, there have been three notifications within the RASFF system for bivalve merchandise from Turkey, one associated to excessive ranges of E. coli in frozen bivalve mollusks; one other for lipophilic toxins and one on account of Salmonella in a frozen pasteurized product. In all circumstances, the investigation by native authorities didn’t detect any deficiency in associated institutions. Nonetheless, the audit group famous a number of points in one of many websites linked to the Salmonella RASFF case.

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