The government has asked frozen foods exporters to meet certain criteria as a top European Union audit team will inspect the sector in November to assess whether or not Bangladesh’s frozen fish exporters maintain the standards required by the EU.
According to the Department of Fisheries, the audit report would largely affect the country’s fish export to the EU as the EU-Food and Veterinary Office team would conduct the audit on residues of food of animal origin mainly to inspect whether there are any chemical substances in fish exported to the EU.
In a recent letter, the DoF informed the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association that a team of EU-FVO would conduct an audit in the frozen fish sector in November 5-16.
During the audit titled ‘Audit on residues of foods of animal origin’ the EU team would inspect all the stages of production process and the future of country’s fish export to the EU would depend on the inspection report, the DoF said in its letter.
The DoF asked frozen fish exporters to ensure the standards of factories and products as per the EU directives and regulations and Fish and Fish Products (Inspection and Quality Control) Rules.
It also asked the exporters to collect samples from registered farms and preserve the sample test reports as per the Factory Residue Control Plan -2018 and to ensure procurement of shrimps from registered service centre, landing centre and depot.
DoF officials said that the EU conducted such inspection in the Bangladesh’s frozen fish sector in 2015 and after three years they were coming for the same type of inspection to evaluate the progress of compliance in the sector.
The DoF asked exporters to strengthen their own checking system and laboratory facilities in the factories through ensuring qualified and trained manpower.
SK Md Abdul Baki, vice-president of the BFFEA, said that the EU team would conduct an audit in the frozen fish sector to evaluate the compliance and hopefully the audit team would be
satisfied as the country’s fish exporters had progressed a lot in establishing world-class processing centres.
He said it was the part of regular monitoring of the EU and now the position of Bangladesh was better than some neighbouring competing countries.
Md Ramjan Ali, deputy director of the DoF, said that the EU team would inspect all the stages of production and quality control of frozen fish.
Although it is a routine audit of the EU, the prospect of the country’s fish export depends on the report of the audit team, he said.
Ramjan said that the DoF asked the exporters to take some initiatives for meeting some requirements before the EU audit and to inform about the progress of suggested requirements to the department.
DoF officials said that the delegation would inspect implementation of public health and residue control requirement in aquaculture products from root level to production level.
The EU imposed 20 per cent testing requirement on cargoes heading to its ports from Bangladesh in July, 2010 followed by identifying serious shortcomings reported by a FVO mission that visited Bangladesh in January that year.
Later in November, 2011, the EU withdrew the testing requirement after the country made progress in line with the recommendations made by the EU.
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