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Photo: The Norwegian Seafood Export Council.Photo: The Norwegian Seafood Export Council

Responsibilities in seafood safety

14.02.2014 // It is important for the Norwegian government to ensure that the consumers have access to safe and healthy seafood of good quality. Food safety and quality is a shared responsibility of all the stakeholders throughout the entire chain of production.

The producers or wholesalers of food are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe and of good quality. The Government is responsible of adopting legislation that ensure seafood safety, and for supervising the regulation compliance. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) is the Government’s supervisory body for food safety. NFSA is governed by three ministries, the Minisrty for Agriculture and Food (LMD), the Ministry for Health and Care Services (HOD) and Ministry of Trade, Industries and Fisheries (NFD).

Through regulations and control of compliance, NFSA’s role is to make sure that food and drinking water are as safe and healthy as possible for consumers and to promote plant, fish and animal health. Its decisions are founded on scientifically based risk assessments performed by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Due to the EEA-agreement, the Norwegian food legislation is harmonized with the EU. The legislation on food hygiene that came into force in Norway on March 1 2010 includes the whole food chain, from primary production to trade. NFSA is responsible for evaluation and implementation of the EU food regulations in Norway.

The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) is a research institute with administrative duties, linked to the NFD. The institute's research focus is nutrition: feed for fish - and fish as food. NIFES provides scientific advice to the Government and food authorities concerning health and safety aspects of both wild catched and farmed seafood.

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute (VI) is the main adviser to the Norwegian National Authorities on matters relating to prevention, diagnosis and management of serious infectious disease in fish and terrestrial animals as well as zoonotics. VI provides additional services in prevention and management of crises related to hazardous constituents and infectious agents in feedstuffs and food.

Food safety will to a large extent be ensured through preventive measures like good hygiene and procedures based on hazard analyses and control with critical points (HACCP principles). As part of the HACCP-based Own Check Routines, each seafood processing plant is required to establish and maintain procedures to ensure microbiologically safe products. This includes documentation of hygienic production and proper disinfection routines, as well as the monitoring of relevant bacteria on the premises and in the products. Should unacceptable levels of microorganisms be found in seafood products, the consignments would not be accepted for distribution.

Tabel showing an overview of Norwegian Government Agencies and Institutes and their role in seafood safety:

Agency/Institute

Abbrevation

Role in seafood safety

Ministry

Norwegian Food Safety Authority

NFSA

Development of legislation, inspections/monitoring

LMD,HOD,NFD

Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety

VKM

Scientific risk assessments

HOD

National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research

NIFES

Research and monitoring related to seafood safety and fish nutrition

NFD

Institute of marine research

HI

Research and monitoring related to the marine environment

NFD

Norwegian Veterinary Institute

VI

Research and monitoring related to zoonoses og antibiotics

LMD, NFD

Norwegian Medicines Agency

NoMA

Assessment and approval of pharmaceuticals and medical disinfectants

HOD

Norwegian Environment Agency

Mdir

Development of legislation, inspections/monitoring related to environmental pollution

MD

Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority

NRPA

Monitoring related to radioactivity

HOD


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