Food Law News - UK - 2002

FSA (Scotland) Letter, 27 June 2002

FISH HYGIENE - Consultation on the Food Safety (Fisheries Products and Live Shellfish)(Hygiene) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2002 and Supporting Measures

The tiered system for the harvesting and processing of king scallops from waters affected by Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning

The purpose of this consultation is to invite comments on a number of papers, and to request information on a number of specific points both in connection with appropriateness of the proposed measures and on their impact. The consultation package included with the letter consisted of:


In anticipation of the adoption of Commission Decision 2002/226, FSA Scotland consulted key industry interests and enforcement bodies in December 2001 to establish whether or not we should proceed with measures to implement it (the Decision is optional for Member States).

The alternative to the Decision is to apply those measures required under Council Directive 91/492/EEC. The effects of both options were explained in detail in the December letter (copies available on request). As a result of the previous FSAS consultation, it was established that the scallop industry in Scotland is broadly in favour of adopting Commission Decision 2002/226, albeit with certain reservations. Enforcement bodies however indicated that they would await this further round of consultation before commenting in detail. This exercise therefore represents the next, and final, phase of the consultation process in which the legislative basis and practical effects of adopting the Decision are set out.

Brief Guide to the Tiered System

The FSA are very aware that there has been a lot of confusion about how the tiered system might operate at a practical level, as well as over issues such as the relationship between the new trigger levels and action levels. The purpose of this section is to set out, in brief, how the FSA envisage the system working. The sampling requirements are explained in an attached guide and will not be repeated here.

The tiered system requires no additional control until the whole animal result exceeds 20mg/kg, the present statutory action level. From this level to a maximum of 250mg/kg the tiered system can be implemented. If the 250mg/kg level is exceeded, production areas will be closed. When the tiered system is in operation, marketing of whole animals is prohibited and processing of gonad and/or adductor muscle will only be permitted where statutory monitoring results show levels below the trigger level of 4.6mg/kg in the individual parts. End product testing of every batch will be mandatory and products will only be allowed on the market where test results are below the action level of 20mg/kg.

It is proposed that when the tiered system is in operation, gatherers will apply to an issuing authority (see guidance for enforcement offers) for a movement document (hereinafter called the registration document). This document will differ from that currently in use in so far as it will require additional information to be provided by the gatherer and certain details to be completed by the issuing authority. The gatherer will have to state the boxes in which they intend to fish, where they intend to land the scallops and where they will be processed. The issuing authority will complete this information on the document and indicate the level of processing required before retaining a copy. Single registration documents can be issued to cover several production areas of the same status. The purpose of these measures is twofold; firstly it is essential to underpinning one of the key elements of the tiered system - traceability; and secondly, to ensure that all the necessary information is available to enable the correct processing to be carried out. Its use will be strictly enforced.

At the time of issue of the registration document, the issuing authority will also provide the gatherer with a quantity of uniquely numbered identity tags. These tags should be used to seal bags of scallops and the number(s) of the tag(s) used recorded on the registration document against the production area from which the scallops were harvested. On landing, the gatherer should retain a copy of the document and a copy should go with the consignment to the processor. Any unused tags should also accompany the consignment.

All processors intending to accept scallops harvested under the tiered system will have to seek prior authorisation from the local authority.

On receipt of the consignment, the processor should ensure that any unused tags are destroyed and disposed of. Consignments of scallops should then be processed in accordance with the status recorded on the registration document. The processor should inform the issuing authority that he is in receipt of the registration document. At this stage it is acceptable for processors to bulk up consignments of the same status into a single larger batch. An end product test for each batch should be carried out and the results recorded on the registration document, which the processor then retains. If the results indicate that the product is below the action level of 20mg/kg, then they can be placed on the market. If the action level is exceeded, then the local food authority should be notified to arrange destruction of the batch in liaison with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Consultation Papers

The Food Safety (Fishery Products and Live Shellfish) (Hygiene) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2002

The legislation required to implement Commission Decision 2002/226/EC is necessarily complex. The key measures which it provides for however are:

Comments on any or all of the above would be welcome, as well as on any of the more minor points within the proposed regulations.

Guidance for Enforcement Officers

Guidance notes have been produced with the aim of providing informal, non-statutory guidance on the new legal requirements and should be read in conjunction with the above regulations. They are intended to identify and provide guidance on the most appropriate method of implementation of the new regulations within a framework of practical regulatory control. The key areas however are:

Guidance is also provided on the appropriate handling of waste material.

Again the FSAS would welcome comments from consultees on the draft guidance.

Finally, as indicated previously, there are a number of specific points on which we would be very grateful to receive your comments. These are set out in another attached paper.

The consultation period ends on the 27 September 2002.

Note: For the 'Flow Diagram Indicating Testing Required Under the Tiered System' (pdf file), see:

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