Food alerts underline safety needs

Related tags Food safety Food

The number of food-linked alerts in the European Union leapt by
over 40 per cent in 2003 on the previous year, with the majority
sourced in the 'old' member states.

A report from Europe's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) reveals the number of 'information exchanges' - composed of 'alert notifications' and 'information notifications' - rose from 3024 in 2002 to 4286 in 2003.

With a considerable 65 per cent slice of the alerts, sourced from pre-accession 15 member states, and just 4 per cent from the 10 new members.

In place since 1979, the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) provides national authorities with a tool to swap information on national measures taken to ensure food safety, namely foods withdrawn from the food chain.

Alerts require immediate action due to the risk of food contamination to the consumer whereas with notifications the food product has yet to reach other member markets in the RASSF​ network.

According to the annual RASFF report, a total of 454 alert notifications and 1856 information notifications were received in 2003.

With 95 per cent of notifications, aflatoxins topped mycotoxin contaminations in 2003. Salmonella had a 46 per cent slice of microbiological contaminations, and the illegal colour sudan 1, with 29 per cent, dominated chemical contaminations.

Food makers operating in today's climate have no choice but to implement rigorous food safety tools, from machinery to staff training, into their daily costs.

But putting a price on food safety is 'frankly impossible' because it is totally integrated, says Francois Perroud, a spokesperson for number one food maker Nestle.

At every level quality systems are in place to protect our reputation - including the day to day finely-tuned tracking in our 500 factories, he tells

Among the many components sewn into the food safety system, Nestle also has a working group that meets once a month to discuss food quality and safety issues as well as a rigorous reporting group, 'scientific punch and selected personnel' to ensure foods are as 'safe as humanly imaginable'.

Related topics Regulation & Safety