The contamination of wheat with mustard has finally emerged, as could have been and should have been foreseen for some time. (1) Faced with the risk of serious allergic reactions - even lethal - all operators who process wheat, semolina, flour or products containing them (e.g. pasta, bread, bakery products) must:
- perform analyzes on their products e
- provide for the immediate public recall of foods where the allergen may be present but is not declared on the label.
This note, of which wide disclosure is recommended in every production and distribution context, is transmitted by Food Allergy Italia to the General Directorate for Hygiene, Food Safety and Nutrition (DGISAN) of the Ministry of Health, so that urgently to safeguard allergy sufferers. And we intervene against the subjects who have so far offered bad advice, citing the inexistence of the duty to withdraw food at risk.
1) Mustard not declared in the pasta. Alert in Italy and France
The risk of contamination of wheat with the mustard allergen was predictable and taken for granted, after various agronomic regulations introduced the use of the latter as a green manure crop. (1) The milling industries, however, neglected the agronomic practices of their suppliers and only a few weeks ago they decided to share the existence of a concrete risk on semolina and flour already delivered (see next paragraph).
The Ministry of Health registered on its website the 'Recall due to the risk of allergens'of some pasta references, in November 2021. The pages website relating to each recall are inaccessible at the time this article is written. The news in any case concerns three brands:
- Nature calls Selex. 6 formats of organic pasta (wholemeal spaghetti, penne rigate, wholemeal fusilli, wholemeal farfalle, wholemeal helicoidal), recalled on 5.11.21,
- Knowing about Flavors (Selex). Pasta di Gragnano IGP, Spaghettoni and Calamarata. Recall 5.11.21
- Counsel. It advises knowing how to choose, Farfalle pasta n ° 265. Consilia, organic wholemeal penne rigate. Recalls 12 and 14.11.21
2) RASFF, the notification changes
The RASFF portal (Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed) reports news of the public recall of Italian pasta - also distributed in France, through Dimar SpA Cash of Albenga (SV) - for contamination of pasta with mustard (up to 0,40 mg / kg). However, without publishing the names of the operators and brands involved. (2)
Notification in Brussels - registered on 4.11.21 and 'validated' by the Commission on 19.11.21, with a slowness that is ill suited to the management of a food safety risk classified as'serious'- however, it concerns all the cases referred to in the previous paragraph.
The merit of the reminders goes to the Selex group which carried out the laboratory analyzes in self-control, detecting the contamination of the pasta made by
- Newlat Food SpA, in the Fara San Martino (CH) plant where Delverde branded pasta is produced,
- Award-winning Afeltra pasta factory in Gragnano (NA),
- Pastificio Lucio Garofalo SpA (EBRO Group) of Gragnano (NA),
- Pasta Zara, Riese (TV).
3) Allergens not declared, corrective actions
The food it contains any of the allergens indicated in the mandatory list in Annex II to reg. UE 1169/11 - without reporting its presence on the label, with graphic evidence of the keyword that identifies the substance - qualifies as'unsafe food'. (3)
The responsible operator - the owner of the trademark under which the product is sold - if he knows or has good reason to believe that a food that has become unavailable constitutes a risk to public health, he has the duty to:
- immediately activate the (commercial) withdrawal of the product lot (s),
- immediately notify the competent ASL of the withdrawal (with respect to its headquarters),
- inform consumers with all suitable tools, if the products at risk may have reached the level of retail consumption,
- provide for the public recall of products, (4) if any other measure is insufficient to guarantee a high level of food safety. (5)
The Selex group, in the cases mentioned, gave excellent proof of responsibility. Both in the execution of the analyzes, the sharing of test reports with suppliers, the search for other batches produced with the same semolina. Both in the prompt activation of the recall, with notification to the competent ATS of test reports, distribution lists and signs displayed on the points of sale.
4) Roles and responsibilities of the GDO
The GDO, large organized distribution, in turn has the duty to ensure full compliance of the food it distributes with all applicable regulations. (6) Faced with an emerging risk such as the one in question, the large-scale retail trade must therefore in turn apply HACCP and arrange the most appropriate controls on all categories of products potentially at risk.
The dealer - in addition to having primary responsibility for the corrective actions referred to in the previous paragraph, on food under its own brand (private-label) - must in any case participate in the segregation of products at risk and withdrawal or recall, if these have been activated by the responsible operator or ordered by the health authority. Reference is made to what has already been written in this regard. (7)
5) Be wary of bad advice
The rules aforementioned apply uniformly in the EU since 1.1.2005. Nonetheless, Italmopa, the Confindustria association of mills in Italy, has relied on the bad advice of prof. lawyer Paolo Borghi. To theorize that 'the EU Reg. no. 1169/2011, does not provide for any obligation to report, on the labeling, indications in the event of accidental contamination by one or more of the allergenic substances listed in Annex II of the same regulation, including soy and mustard itself.'.
The delusion is reached in the affirmation - which we read in Email of the large mills registered with Italmopa, to their industrial customers - according to which 'in the case of a control analysis showing a positive result, however, a product recall is not required by law, unless it is a product intended for a particular category of consumers (or is explicitly intended for "intolerant or allergic to mustard ").' False. Incitement to commit a crime. (8) The corrective actions referred to in paragraphs 3 and 4 are instead necessary, urgent and mandatory.
Food allergies they are one of the most dangerous diseases, due to the severity of the effects and the immediacy of the immune reaction that can trigger them. The prevalence is higher in children than in adults. Anaphylactic shocks are common, sometimes followed by coma and death. The cialtronerie are dangerous, with life you don't mess around.
The food label and the registers of public businesses must be updated with an essential wording, 'Contains (or May contain) mustard'. Without referring to the ambiguous concept - therefore prohibited (pursuant to EU regulation 1169/11, art. 36) - of 'Tracks', in fact devoid of scientific consent and legal references. (9)
(1) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Mustard. Prevalence of allergies, uses in agriculture, risk of contamination. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 19.9.21/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/sicurezza/senape-prevalenza-allergie-usi-in-agricoltura-rischi-di-contaminazione
(2) European Commission. Mustard undeclared in paste from Italy. RASFF notification 2021.6286. 19.11.21, https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/rasff-window/screen/notification/513275
(3) EC Reg. 178/02, cd General Food Law, article 14. The food safety risk assessment must in fact consider the vulnerabilities of certain categories of consumers, such as allergy sufferers, and the information accompanying the food
(4) The product recall form prepared by the Ministry of Health is available on https://www.salute.gov.it/imgs/C_17_pagineAree_4633_listaFile_itemName_0_file.pdf
(5) EC Reg. 178/02, article 19. For further information, reference is made to ours ebook 'Food safety, mandatory rules and voluntary standards' https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/libri/sicurezza-alimentare-regole-cogenti-e-norme-volontarie-il-nuovo-libro-di-dario-dongo
(6) Dario Dongo, Pier Luigi Copparoni. Responsibility of the distributor, insights. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 22.5.18/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/responsabilità-del-distributore-approfondimenti
(7) Does the large-scale retail trade have to activate the recall on products never displayed on the shelf? The lawyer Dario Dongo answers. DO (Food and Agriculture Requirements). 4.8.21/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/archivio-notizie/domande-e-risposte/la-gdo-deve-attivare-il-richiamo-sui-prodotti-mai-esposti-a-scaffale-risponde-l-avvocato-dario-dongo
(8) NB: awareness of the concrete risk of contamination of its products - in cases of omitted or late activation of the public recall - may lead to the contestation of the crime of injury and / or willful homicide, in the event of adverse reactions, against the legal representative of the company
(9) Dario Dongo. May contain allergens, ABC. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 24.6.18/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/può-contenere-allergeni-abc