Food Law News - UK - 2008

FSA News Item, 30 May 2008

RECALL 2007 Incidents report published by FSA

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) today publishes its second Annual Report of Incidents. The new report shows how many food incidents the Agency handled in 2007 and what action was taken to protect consumers.

New data in the report says that the Agency handled 1,312 investigations into food incidents in 2007, including the high profile bird flu outbreaks in East Anglia and the grounding of the MCS Napoli container ship off the south coast.

The FSA issued wide ranging advice to consumers from advising that the foot and mouth outbreak in Surrey had no impact for the human food chain to reminding people that Zam Zam water of uncertain origin should not be consumed due to potential contamination with arsenic.

Andrew Wadge, FSA Chief Scientist and Director of Food Safety, said: 'Consumer protection is at the heart of the work of the Food Standards Agency. While the food on sale in the UK is safer than it has ever been, we remain vigilant and respond quickly and firmly to protect consumers when incidents do occur. This report gives an overview of the work done by the Agency during 2007 and shows how we work with the food industry and our enforcement partners in local authorities to ensure that potentially harmful food is removed from sale and that consumers are advised as necessary'.

The Agency regularly conducts internal reviews to learn lessons from the handling of past incidents.

Today's report gives a breakdown of all the major categories of incidents in 2007. These categories include: environmental contamination (fires spills and leaks); natural chemical contamination (mycotoxins, algal toxins and others); microbiological incidents; and on-farm incidents.

As a part of the Agency's work to make it easier to report incidents, an enhanced online incident report form was launched last year. The new form makes it easier for food and feed businesses to notify the Agency of product recalls or withdrawals. The Agency is also developing workshops for local authorities and industry to encourage them to use the Agency and its systems to help deal with any problems.

The report can be found at the link below.

What is an incident?

The Agency uses the following definition of an incident:

'Any event where, based on the information available, there are concerns about actual or suspected threats to the safety or quality of food that could require intervention to protect consumers' interests.'

Incidents fall broadly into two categories:

Food Alerts and Allergy Alerts

Action taken by the Agency in 2007 included the issue of 115 Food Alerts, four of which required action from local authorities (two original alerts and two updates). In March 2007, the Agency introduced the allergy alert notice system for allergy incidents that do not need enforcement action, and 58 such alerts, which give consumers the information that they need directly by email or SMS text message, were issued in the remaining part of the year.

A copy of the Report is available on this site. See: 2007 Incidents Report

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