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Photo: Photo: The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research.Photo: Photo: The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research

Overview of seafood safety monitoring programmes

14.02.2014 // The main objective for the Norwegian authorities is to ensure food safety through monitoring of undesirable substances, microorganisms and parasites in wild-caught and farmed seafood, as well as in fish feed. Below is a list of the seafood monitoring programmes in force in Norway.

Baseline studies of wild seafood catches

Through a major project called BaselineSurveys, the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) is determining the background values of undesirable substances in the most commercially important seafood species in Norway. By 2013,  seven species have been analysed. The information provided by identifying the presence of undesirable substances in wild seafood from Norwegian waters will be of fundamental importance for risk assessment in this area. The baseline studies also provide useful information about contaminants situation which the seafood businesses can use to achieve the goal of safe fish products. 

Nutrients and undesirable substances in wild seafood

The surveillance research programme includes measurements of random samples to determine the content of nutrients and undesirable substances in fish and other seafood from the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. The species analysed vary from year to year and the number of samples taken depends on the species. The quantity of samples taken of each species depends on the catch volume. 

Parasite status

Every year, NIFES monitors occurrences of parasitic nematodes (e.g. Anisakis spp.) and the ‘soft flesh’ inducing parasite Kudoa in various commercially important fish species, including herring and Atlantic mackerel from the main fishing areas, throughout the fishing season. Several national and international investigations have shown that farmed salmon (for human consumption) do not carry nematode parasites. 

Monitoring of radioactivity in seafood

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority is responsible for the marine monitoring programme to detect radioactive pollution in fish and other important marine species. 

Shipwrecks and seafood safety

Based on mapping work carried out by the Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has prepared a register of information concerning more than 2100 large vessels which have foundered along the Norwegian coast since 1914. Several of these wrecks contain environmental contaminants, which could impact seafood safety if they were to leak into the sea. 

Fjords and ports

NIFES and other institutes regularly examine the level of environmental contaminants in fish and other seafood in a number of fjords and harbours along the Norwegian coast. Recommendations regarding the safe consumption of fish from these areas are provided by the NFSA, some times after risk evealuationby the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety based on this monitoring. 

Monitoring of shellfish

NFSA is monitoring the presence of microorganisms, chemical contaminants, marine biotoxins in molluscs in production areas along the Norwegian coast, or toxinproducing algae in production areas. NIFES is performing analysis of microorganisms and chemical contaminants. The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science performs analysis of marine biotoxins. 

Monitoring programme for undesirable substances in farmed fish

The aim of this programme is to monitor residues of therapeutic agents, illegal substances, pollutants and other undesirable substances in Norwegian farmed fish in accordance with Directive 96/23/EC "On measures to monitor certain substances and residues thereof in live animal and animal products” and Directive 2002/657/EC on detailing implementation of the above-mentioned directive. NFSA is responsible for the enforcement of these directives in Norway, while NIFES has been delegated the responsibility for carrying out analytical work on all marine species and for the food safety assessments of the results. NIFES also issues an annual report on this monitoring programme. 

Monitoring programme for imported fish and seafood products

This monitoring programme is part of the Norwegian veterinary border control and also part of the Norwegian implementation of the EU Commission Regulation (EC) No. 136/2004 on “Laying down procedures for veterinary checks at community border inspection posts on products imported from third countries”. NFSA is responsible for implementation of the regulation in Norway. NIFES is delegated the responsibility for the analytical work on all marine and limnic species, and foodstuffs made thereof, and makes food safety assessments based on the results. NIFES also issues an annual report on this monitoring programme. 

Monitoring of feed and feed raw materials for fish and other marine animals

Feed and feed materials for fish feed may contain undesirable substances, which in turn may be transferred to the fish. The feed surveillance programme contributes significantly to the overview of undesirable substances in Norwegian farmed fish, which is important in assessing food safety. NIFES monitor the content of undesirable substances in feed and feed raw materials for fish and other marine animals on behalf of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. 


The National Veterinary Institute annually reports occurrences of food-borne microbiological pathogens in Norway, including bacteria such as Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes (see ‘Zoonosis Report’). The report includes data from fish and shellfish examined by NIFES as part of the various monitoring programmes (see above). 

Resource management plans for Norwegian ocean areas

In White Paper No. 12 (2001-2002): A Clean and Rich Sea, the Norwegian Parliament concluded that there was a need for more comprehensive management of the resources in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, as well as the North Sea and Skagerrak. As part of the resource management plans for these ocean areas, NIFES has investigated the levels of a number of undesirable substances in commercial species from the respective waters.

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