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Wide Range of Food Incidents Reported to Safety Authority

02 July 2013

UK - A report by the British Food Standards Agency shows that there was a wide range of food security incidents managed by the Food Standards Agency during 2012.

The Annual Report of Food Incidents shows that last year, a total of 1,604 food and environmental contamination incidents in the UK were reported to and investigated by the FSA.

This figure was 110 down on 2011 but higher than in many previous years.

The three largest contributors to these incidents were microbiological contamination (20 per cent), environmental contamination (15 per cent) and natural chemical contamination (13 per cent).

One of the valuable roles played by the report is providing insight into why certain types of incident have increased. For example, FSA investigations show a recent rise in a certain type of salmonella was mostly the result of paan leaves imported from Bangladesh.

Similarly, the number of allergen-related incidents appears to have risen by more than half since 2010. Statistics suggest, however, that legislative changes relating to gluten may have been a major contributory factor.

The report also shows a rise in the number of whistleblowers who contacted the FSA during the year. A total of 81 cases originated from whistleblowers during 2012 – up from 54 the previous year.

Catherine Brown, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said: “We hope that this annual report encourages food businesses and consumers to notify us promptly of incidents and of any other potentially-useful intelligence they have.

“This will enable us to act swiftly to protect the public and the food industry and, in so doing, increase public confidence in food safety.”

The data released today does not include the incidents of horsemeat contamination that came to light in the first half of 2013, as these occurred outside of the scope of the report.

All incidents notified to the FSA are reviewed, and in the case of horsemeat the FSA has commissioned an additional independent external review of how it responded. This is due to report shortly.

Catherine Brown said: “Although the horse meat incident occurred outside the scope of this report, I would like to highlight the resolve with which the FSA responded.

“Working closely with other Government departments and the food industry, the Agency ensured that 6,000 tests of frozen products were carried out within three weeks – far more than any other EU member state.

“The UK was also the first country to submit a dossier to Europol and the first country to make arrests.

“By responding so quickly, we were able to reassure the public that more than 99% of the tests undertaken in the UK contained no horse DNA at the level of 1% or above, and that there was no threat to public health.”

TheMeatSite News Desk

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