The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is taking action to reduce the risk of listeria by carrying out a full inspection of all salmon slaughterhouses.
Elisabeth Wilmann, director of fish and seafood at the authority said that since a lot of salmon is eaten without heat treatment and used in ready-to-eat products such as sushi or smoked fish, it is important that processors have effective measures against listeria.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis. While most people do not get sick from the bacterium, the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women are vulnerable, and in a few cases, it has been known to lead to death.
Fish is not the only food that poses a risk, but two years ago there were a number of outbreaks in EU countries which were traced back to smoked, grated and marinated fish products that had come from processing plants in Poland and Estonia. However, some of the fish may originated in Norway.
In 2019 there was also a listeria alert after the bacteria was found on Norwegian salmon that had been exported to Singapore.
Wilmann said it is because of this and demands for tighter inspection that the food safety authority has decided to act.
She said Norwegian salmon slaughterhouses were generally responsible and well aware of the risks posed by listeria.
She added: “The Norwegian Food Safety Authority will examine the measures in slaughterhouses, including their sampling and routines for non-conformance treatment.
“We will emphasize guidance. In addition, we will clarify the regulations and the responsibility of the slaughterhouse to prevent unsafe products from entering the market.
“By obtaining a better overview of the status of Listeria in salmonids, we will be in a better position to contribute to the clarification of any future disease outbreaks.”
The inspection campaign runs until September and a full report will be published towards the end of the year.