June 7, 2021

Belgium confiscates close to 80 tonnes of non-compliant tuna


Authorities in Belgium have confiscated nearly 80 tonnes of tuna in the past months this year, with more than 90% of non-compliant products imported from Asia.


Between September and December 2020, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) took 45 samples of fresh and frozen tuna from retailers and frozen tuna from wholesalers and carried out 92 types of analysis. In 2019, there were 17 samples analysed and all were compliant.


Last year, FASFC uncovered the use of carbon monoxide treatment, a technique banned for tuna in Europe.


The objective of the agency's operation was to detect the use and frequency of fraud techniques that are used to hide the spoilage of the fish going brown by passing it off as a fresher item that stays red.


Investigators looked at different techniques such as the addition of dyes, nitrites or nitrates and carbon monoxide treatment.


More than 35,000 tonnes of tuna was seized due to carbon monoxide treatment.


Five of six samples were found to have undergone the treatment.


Almost half of the 25 samples were non-compliant for nitrite or nitrate levels. 16 of 29 tests were non-compliant for amounts of ascorbic acid, which is limited to 300 milligrams per kilogramme in EU regulations.


All 15 samples looking at histamine and total volatile base nitrogen were satisfactory. Production of histamine is related to storage at incorrect temperatures.


Following the release of the results, AFSCA included carbon monoxide in routine checks as part of its control plan in 2021, and stepped up inspections on imports of tuna from non-EU countries.


In 2020, the National Investigation Unit of FASFC handled nearly 800 cases related to fraud.



- Food Safety News