Between September and December 2020, Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) inspectors took 45 samples of fresh and frozen tuna from retailers and frozen tuna from wholesalers, and carried out 92 types of analysis.The objective of the operation was to detect the use and frequency of chemical treatments that are used to hide the spoilage of the fish going brown, and passing it off as a fresher item, which retains its red colour. The FASFC analysed for the treatment with colourants, ascorbic acid, nitrite and nitrates, and carbon monoxide.
More than 35 tons of tuna was seized having been treated with carbon monoxide. Almost half of the 25 samples tested had been treated with nitrite or nitrate. Sixteen of 29 samples tested were non-compliant for amounts of ascorbic acid, which has a limit of 300 mg/kg under EU Regulations.
As a result of the fraud discovered in 2020, the AFSCA will include testing for carbon monoxide treatment in routine checks as part of its control plan in 2021 and will increase inspections on imports of tuna from non-EU countries.
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