The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has highlighted opportunities for enhancing the official food control systems in Iceland and Norway, both of which are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The ESA monitors the adherence of these countries to European Economic Area (EEA) rules concerning food and feed safety, animal health, and welfare.
While both Iceland and Norway have established control mechanisms to ensure compliance with relevant EEA requirements, certain aspects require reinforcement, according to the ESA. In a recent review, ESA found that Iceland had made progress in addressing issues raised in six out of nine audits conducted between January 2018 and September 2022. However, limited advancement was observed in addressing shortcomings identified during a 2018 audit on official controls of animal by-products not intended for human consumption.
Similarly, Norway displayed progress in addressing recommendations from four out of nine audits. Yet, ESA noted that certain corrective actions were not met within the specified deadlines, resulting in incomplete or limited progress in addressing some recommendations.
In terms of the fishery products sector, both nations have implemented a risk-based system for official controls that cover the entire production chain. However, there are deficiencies such as incomplete data on landing sites and vessel registers in Iceland and irregular official controls in Norway.
For poultry meat and animal by-products, both countries apply risk-based systems to determine the frequency of official controls. Nevertheless, weaknesses were identified in controlling animal by-products to prevent health risks to both humans and animals.
Regarding non-animal origin food products, border control posts in Iceland mostly comply with relevant EEA regulations. However, the organization of official controls in Iceland raises concerns as it may not ensure that relevant consignments are subjected to necessary checks before being placed on the market.
The audit also revealed that follow-up actions are required to ensure the safety of live bivalve mollusks for human consumption in Iceland, in line with recommendations from a 2019 audit.