The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is a governmental body, operating on a national basis, whose aim is to ensure that food and drinking water are safe and healthy for consumers. The Authority ensures the safety of food throughout the food chain and is responsible for all legislation concerning the production and distribution of food. This includes business activities within primary production, food industries, grocery stores, all kinds of food catering and some imports, such as imports of animals, food and plants. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority also monitors plant, fish and animal health.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is a joint subordinate agency under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has 8 regional and 54 district offices, and 1,300 employees. The district offices carry out most active inspections. Having offices throughout the country means that the Norwegian Food Safety Authority is close to both consumers and relevant businesses.
Three levels of administration
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority comprises three administrative levels. The head office is responsible for coordinating the organisation's activities, including preparation of new legislation, eradication of animal diseases and continuous monitoring of the food chain in general. The Authority’s activities also extend to animal welfare issues, including inspections of farms, seafood farms, production establishments and other undertakings such as restaurants.
The head office consists of three departments in addition to the staff of the Director General. The three departments are: the Department of Administration (located in Brumunddal, Sortland and Oslo), the Department of Legislation (located in Bergen, Sandnes, Ås and Oslo) and the Department of Controls (located in Bergen, Sandnes, Ås and Oslo).
The regional offices are responsible for coordinating and reporting activities at the district office level. The district offices carry out most of the practical work of food law enforcement and thus form a vital part of the organisation.
Responsible for risk management
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is responsible for risk management and monitors compliance with applicable legislation and regulations at all stages of food production. At the district level, the Authority conducts inspections and is empowered to make decisions. Complaints concerning decisions made at the local level may be appealed at the next level.
The adoption of regulations is primarily the work of the Norwegian ministries, although the Norwegian Food Safety Authority assists the ministries by preparing texts. An exception to this rule is that the Authority itself adopts regulations that are of a purely technical nature.
From sea to table
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is responsible for providing regulatory guidance and also for supervision and monitoring of the entire production chain from sea to table.
Other responsibilities of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority are related to exports of seafood and an ongoing dialogue with the supervisory authorities in other countries.
Approval of seafood companies
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has to approve seafood companies in the categories fish feed, shellfish reception, refrigerator vessels, shore facilities and factory ships. The Authority is also responsible for the classification and supervision of areas for shellfish production, seeing to it that approval and classification is carried out in accordance with EU/EEA harmonised regulations.
Its work vis-à-vis these companies includes supervision and inspection of operational and building hygiene, cooling and freezing plants, water and ice, vermin suppression, cleaning, waste disposal, and training and health checks of employees.
Important elements of the inspection are the auditing of internal control system performance and random sampling by means of inspection and sampling for analysis. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is responsible for implementing and reporting on a national seafood safety monitoring programme.
Supporting the administration
The Food Safety Authority’s scientific support is provided primarily by the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), the Institute of Marine Research and the National Veterinary Institute.
Other bodies that supply scientific management support of relevance to seafood safety and fish health are the Norwegian Medicines Agency, the Climate and Pollution Agency and the Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture Research. Universities, colleges and other research institutions contribute additionally on an informal basis.