The year has started with significant news of separate trade deals between America with China and Japan, moves for stricter allergen labelling by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, the increased spread of Norovirus in Europe, a revelation of frequent listeria detections in Brazilian beef processing plants, and much more.
Watch the video industry round-up for more on each of these stories, and enjoy the transcript below with sources for more detailed reading.
US agrees trade deals with China and Japan
On January 1st, a new trade deal between the US and Japan came into effect which means that more than 90% of Japanese-imported US food and agricultural products are now duty-free or have preferential tariff access.
This means an additional $7.2bn USD of goods can be exported to Japan and gives American farms the same access to the Japanese market as Canadian, Australian and New Zealand farmers.
Elsewhere in Asia, the US also signed its ‘Phase One Trade Deal’ with China which will remove tariffs on meat and poultry.
The agreement has been claimed as a “gamechanger” for the US beef industry as China is the world’s largest-growing market for imported red meat and its imports grew by 65% year on year to exceed $14bn USD in 2019.
EFSA assesses possibilities of whole-genome sequencing for food safety
The European Food Safety Authority recently hosted a panel on Biological Hazards which claimed that whole-genome sequencing could pose new possibilities for foodborne outbreak detection and investigation, as well as source attribution and hazard identification.
EFSA has recommended that there should be international agreement on standardization and quality control parameters, as well as validation which will help to ensure methods are repeatable, reproducible and accurate.
Norovirus outbreak spreads in Europe
A norovirus outbreak in Europe has now spread to Denmark and Sweden. Already at least 180 and 70 people have fallen ill following more than 1,000 others in France, with 21 requiring hospital treatment.
The French Ministry of Agriculture and Food reports that more than 400 companies have been affected by the temporary closure of 23 shellfish growing zones in seven regions due to the outbreak.
Stricter allergen labeling sought by FSANZ
Stricter regulations on allergen labeling are being considered by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand who are accepting public comments on proposals on the issues of clarity, consistency, and prominence.
The governmental body claims that the lack of requirements over how and where declarations for allergens are made on food and beverage packaging has created uncertainty for businesses when complying with requirements, and equally, for regulators when having to enforce them.
Called the Plain English Allergen Labelling Proposal, or PEAL for short, this move represents the second round of calls for public comment since 2018 and comes following risk assessment work conducted by the governmental body.
South Korea enforces mandatory GMP and traceability systems for functional health food manufacturers
South Korea has enacted the first of nine new policies this year for food and health foods. The first of these new policies is to ensure product safety by requiring manufacturers to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices.
8 more policies are due to be implemented this year including a requirement for functional food manufacturers of a certain size to implement product traceability systems from June.
These policies come following four consecutive years of rising complaints related to the consumption of functional health foods in the country before a plateau in 2019.
Brazilian beef plants test positive for Listeria
It has been revealed that 9 out of 13 beef processing plants in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso have tested positive for Listeria spp.
Although export-authorized Brazilian plants adhered to international regulations, Brazilian internal rules only require Listeria monocytogenes to be controlled in ready-to-eat products.
50 beef samples were taken from the 13 different export-authorized plants while Listeria isolates were discovered in nine of the plants, Listeria monocytogenes was confirmed in only four of them.
You can learn more about listeria monocytogenes with our free Ebook on Microbiological Hazards, a link to which is contained in the transcript of this video.
Horsemeat arrests made in Spain
Europol announced details of arrests made by the Spanish Civil Guard on an organised crime group selling horsemeat deemed unfit declared for human consumption.
The arrest followed checks of documents on more than 10,000 horses and the seizure of 185 falsified horse passports at stables and slaughterhouses around Barcelona and Catalonia.
15 suspects have been arrested and 13 others are under ongoing investigation.