Spanish canners ask for temporary Thai tuna ban

Published on
November 5, 2012

A Spanish seafood association says the European Union should temporarily halt all imports of canned tuna from Thailand after the EU rejected lots for inadequate thermal treatment.

ANFACO-CECOPESCA, a private organization of 210 Spanish seafood processors, called on the EU to get stricter with both Thai tuna processors and the country’s health authorities, after they found out that the EU rejected Thai canned tuna imports 17 times in the last 8 months. The organization also said the EU should de-list Thai factories that have been found to be in breach of EU sanitary regulations.

“The big problem is for the final consumer at the EU, because the cause of the border rejection for these Thai tuna products is inadequate thermal treatment,” said Juan Vietes, secretary general of ANFACO-CECOPESCA. “This is an unacceptable situation, showing a serious error in the control procedures based on the principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) in Thai companies,” Vietes added.

Even though the rejected tuna lots have been destroyed, the EU needs to require more long-term measures from Thai canners, according to ANFACO-CECOPESCA, such as technical audits by independent bodies and official inspections by the relevant Thai authorities.

“This [rejected tuna imports] questions the competence of the Thai supervisory authority, for not verifying if the thermal processes have been established on scientific bases and are guaranteed by an authority source,” Vietes said.

While the EU has rejected lots of canned tuna from Spain and other countries over the past year, ANFACO-CECOPESCA is not concerned about those imports. “Those countries did not have a repeated problem as in Thailand. They have got 17 border rejections in the last 8 months,” Vietes said.

Vietes does not know when the EU should begin allowing Thai tuna imports again. “The period of time will depend when sanitary authorities of Thailand assure that the hygienic-sanitary problems have been resolved,” Vietes said.

Thailand is the largest producer of canned tuna in the world, according to ANFACO-CECOPESCA, representing 30 percent of world production. It produces 400,000 metric tons of canned tuna annually.

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