Food Law News - EU - 2010

FSA Enforcement Letter (ENF/E/10/028), 23 July 2010

HYGIENE - Freezing of farmed Atlantic salmon intended to be consumed raw or almost raw

In 2009 and 2007 the Food Standards Agency issued advice (reference ENF/E/09/028 and ENF/E/07/045) to clarify the hygiene requirements for the control of parasites that may be present in fishery products intended to be eaten raw or almost raw. Those letters reminded LAs of the legal requirements and advised that the Agency expected these requirements to be complied with.

We also advised that the European Commission had requested an opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the risk of parasites in fishery products. They were specifically asked to assess the available documentation for farmed Atlantic salmon, which included an evaluation of research carried out by the FSA on the prevalence of certain parasites in pellet fed Atlantic salmon farmed in Scottish waters.

EFSA delivered their opinion on 11 March 2010 and concluded that the risk to human health from parasitic nematodes from farmed Atlantic salmon fed controlled pelleted diets and farmed in raised sea cages or onshore tanks is negligible. No conclusion was reached for any other farmed species as it was determined that there was insufficient evidence available. This conclusion applies only to farmed salmon and not wild salmon. The EFSA opinion indicates no fishing grounds can be classed as ‘parasite-free’, meaning that all wild-caught seawater and freshwater fish must still be considered at risk of containing viable parasites of human health concern if to be consumed raw or almost raw. (

Following the EFSA opinion the Commission intend to table proposals to amend the EC food hygiene legislation to remove the current requirement to freeze farmed Atlantic salmon intended to be consumed raw or almost raw. However, it is unlikely that an EU freezing exemption for farmed Atlantic salmon will be adopted until early next year at the very earliest.

In the interim, the advice of the Food Standards Agency to enforcing authorities is to take account of EFSA’s opinion and the Commissions ongoing review of this issue when considering whether it is proportionate to take any enforcement action where fully traceable farmed Atlantic salmon is supplied raw or almost raw to consumers without first having been frozen. Should you be minded to take enforcement action in relation to such product I would be grateful if you could contact me to discuss the circumstances of the case.

There are no Commission proposals to grant a freezing exemption for any other species intended to be consumed raw or almost raw, and we would reiterate our previous advice with regard to all other species.

For the previous news item on this topic, see:

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