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CO Notifications From Italy Dominate EU Rapid Alerts

Notifications from Italy of traces of Carbon Monoxide (CO) found in tuna imports have dominated EU rapid alerts this month. Italian authorities have made four reports of this kind to the European Commission’s Rapid Alerts for Food and Feed (RASFF) database during November.

There is an ongoing conflict between Spanish suppliers and Italian authorities surrounding tuna that is being held for containing CO in Italy. Spanish exporters have said that tuna loins coming back from Italy have been tested in laboratories in Spain and have no trace of Carbon Monoxide. Tuna exporters in Spain have suggested that the lab readings from Italy are false.

Yellowfin tuna loins from France and Spain were both subjected to alerts from Italian authorities. In all cases, the tuna imports were withdrawn from the market after they were all found to contain levels of carbon monoxide treatment. In high concentrations, the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, carbon monoxide can be toxic to humans.

Another notification came from Italy after authorities were made aware of mercury (1.3 mg/kg-ppm) found in frozen tuna fillets from Spain. The product was also removed from the market following the identification.

But it wasn’t just Italy that had issues with tuna imports this month. Spain reported poor temperature control of frozen longfinned tunas from Indonesia. The imported product was not authorized and failed to reach the market.

France identified the bacterium; listeria monocytogenes in a chilled tuna mayonnaise salad product coming from Belgium. Listeria monocytogenes can cause infections and food poisoning. It is a bacterium that is capable of surviving in the presence of oxygen and can be found in other processed foods such as soft cheeses.

The European Commission was also made aware of histamine found in frozen pre-cooked skipjack tuna loins and flakes from Vietnam. The product was notified by Belgium authorities and was rejected at the country’s border.