Freezing requirements for fishery products intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked

About this guidance This guidance provides an overview of the legal requirements and will be of interest to food businesses, including restaurants, that place raw or lightly cooked fishery products on the market.

Under European food hygiene legislation, certain fishery products destined to be eaten raw in dishes (such as sushi or cold smoked) need to be frozen before use. This is to protect consumers against parasites, unless certain risk-based freezing exemptions can be applied.

Parasites and freezing requirements Fish parasites such as Anisakis are a problem in certain species of wild fish.

If eaten by a human, they can cause illness. This means all fish and fishery products must be inspected and any visible parasites removed before the fish or fishery product is sold.

Cooking kills parasites, but freezing is an additional way to protect the health of consumers. This is because the freezing process kills any parasites that may remain undetected. Food Standards Agency research showed there is a negligible risk of parasites from farmed salmon.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) then reviewed the available evidence on the presence of parasites in wild and farmed fish.

After that review, the European Commission and member states agreed updated hygiene legislation requirements, which allow a risk-based approach to be taken when applying the freezing requirements for fish and fishery products.

The updated requirements are set out in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1276/2011, which amends the relevant provisions in Regulation (EC) No 853/2004, and came into force on 29 December 2011. European Union (EU) fish freezing requirements.

Who do the requirements apply to?

All food businesses that place on the market, fishery products that are subject to a freezing treatment. Food businesses include restaurants and other retailers. See question ‘Who has responsibility for carry out any required freezing treatment’ below for further guidance on who has responsibility for carrying out any required freezing treatment.

Which fishery products do the freezing requirements apply to?

All fishery products from finfish or cephalopod mollusks that are intended to be consumed raw or lightly cooked must be frozen before consumption. This includes fish intended to be eaten raw such as sushi and sashimi, as well as cold smoked fish where the smoking process does not achieve a core temperature of 140°F/60°C for at least one minute. Marinated and salted fishery products, and any other treated products where the processing treatment used is insufficient to kill the viable parasites, must also be frozen before consumption. This could include products such as gravlax, carpaccio. and pickled herring, depending on the marinating or curing treatment used.

What are the specific requirements for fishery products that require freezing for killing parasites?

Fishery products that are subject to a freezing treatment must be frozen at -4°F/-20°C for not less than 24 hours, or -31°F/-35°C for not less than 15 hours. The freezing must reach all parts of the product.

Are there any exemptions from the freezing requirements?

Yes. Food businesses do not need to apply a freezing treatment to fishery products, if they meet at least one of these conditions: Fishery products have been, or before consumption, are due to be heat treated at a level that is sufficient to kill viable parasites. This is 140°F/60°C for at least one minute for parasites other than trematodes. Fish have been preserved as frozen fishery products for a sufficiently long period to kill the viable parasites. This includes fishery products that have been commercially frozen at – 0, 4°F/-18°C for at least 4 days for storage, transport and distribution purposes. Wild catches have been authorized by the FSA, the central competent authority, to be exempt from freezing on the basis of evidence showing that the fishing grounds of origin do not present a health hazard with regard to parasites. Farmed fish, when cultured from embryos and fed on a diet that cannot contain viable parasites, and: Have been exclusively reared in an environment that is free from viable parasites (this would include most onshore tank based production systems); or Where the food business can verify that the fishery products do not present any health hazards in relation to parasites, through procedures approved by the competent authority.

Are there any documentation requirements?

Yes. When fishery products that are subject to a freezing treatment are placed on the market they must be accompanied by a document, issued by the food business carrying out the treatment, stating the type of freezing process the products have undergone. Food businesses placing affected fishery products on the market which have not been subject to a freezing treatment, and which are not intended to undergo such treatment before consumption, must ensure that they are sourced from fishing grounds or fish farms that meet the exemption conditions. This information can be provided in the commercial documentation or any other information accompanying the fishery products.

Does documentation need to be supplied to the final consumer?

No. The documentation requirements do not apply to fishery products supplied to the final consumer. Duties of food business operators.

Who has responsibility for carrying out any required freezing treatment?

Food business operators placing fishery products on the market that are subject to the EU freezing requirements are legally responsible for applying a freezing treatment. This could be either the fish supplier or a restaurant serving the fish for example, depending on the circumstances and the point at which fishery products are marketed for raw consumption. In some cases, it may not be known at the initial point of supply if fresh fish are intended to be consumed raw or cooked before consumption, particularly if products are exported or placed on the market via a distributor or wholesaler. This means the need to apply a freezing treatment may not be established until further down the food supply chain. Buyers of fishery products, who intend to market a product which requires a freezing treatment, should specify the need for this to the supplier. Alternatively, the purchaser may wish to carry out the treatment themselves. It is considered that this would be in line with food safety management obligations for food businesses under Regulation (EC) 852/2004. The provisions are intended to be flexible enough to allow the freezing process to be applied at the most appropriate point in the food chain and, notwithstanding the legal obligations outlined above; commercial agreements may be reached between suppliers and customers as to who takes responsibility for the freezing obligation. It is advised that this is done transparently with a high regard for consumer safety, and is auditable by the relevant enforcement authority.

How can it be demonstrated that a freezing treatment has been applied?

The food business applying a freezing treatment must ensure that the fishery products are accompanied by a document indicating the type of freezing process the products have undergone. Without this documentation it may not be obvious to any receiving businesses whether or not they had an obligation to apply a freezing treatment to fish they intended to market for raw consumption. Products which are received without a document indicating the type of freezing process the products have undergone should be considered not to have been frozen until the evidence of freezing has been provided.

Will food businesses need to carry out any sampling or monitoring?

In the case of farmed Salmon, Atlantic Halibut and Rainbow Trout, no additional sampling by food businesses will be required assuming there are no changes to farming practices, and it will be sufficient for businesses to refer to the EFSA risk assessment and the FSA-funded research. Similarly, food businesses rearing other species of farmed fish will not be expected to carry out sampling when fish are produced in accordance with the production methods. The FSA will carry out further research where necessary to monitor parasite prevalence levels in wild and farmed fish as part of an ongoing national programme of work to ensure that verification procedures applied by food businesses remain risk-based and proportionate. FSA has published advice to consumers on the risk associated with wild caught fish. It is important to ensure that the products caught for personal consumption are safe to eat. Some wild caught fish are known to be at risk of being infected with the nematode parasite Anisakis. Source: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/fish-shellfish/freezing-requirements-guidance Freezing requirements for meat products intended to be eaten raw or lightly cooked About this guidance This guidance provides an overview of the legal requirements and will be of interest to food businesses, including restaurants, that place raw or lightly cooked meat products on the market. Under European food hygiene legislation, certain meat products destined to be eaten raw in dishes (such as tartare or thinly sliced meat) need to be frozen before use. This is to protect consumers against parasites, unless certain risk-based freezing exemptions can be applied. Parasites and freezing requirements Meat parasites such as Salmonella, or Clostridium Botulinum, Escherichia Coli are a problem in certain kind of meat. If eaten by a human, they can cause illness. This means all meat and meat products must be inspected and any visible parasites removed before the meat or meat products is sold. Cooking kills parasites, but freezing is an additional way to protect the health of consumers. This is because the freezing process kills any parasites that may remain undetected. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) then reviewed the available evidence on the presence of parasites in wild and farmed meat. After that review, the European Commission and member states agreed updated hygiene legislation requirements, which allow a risk-based approach to be taken when applying the freezing requirements for meat and meat products. The updated requirements are set out in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1276/2011, which amends the relevant provisions in Regulation (EC) No 853/2004, and came into force on 29 December 2011. European Union (EU) fish freezing requirements.

Who do the requirements apply to?

All food businesses that place on the market, meat products that are subject to a freezing treatment. Food businesses include restaurants and other retailers. See question ‘Who has responsibility for carry out any required freezing treatment’ below for further guidance on who has responsibility for carrying out any required freezing treatment.

Which meat products do the freezing requirements apply to?

All meat products from that are intended to be consumed raw or lightly cooked must be frozen before consumption. This includes cold smoked meat where the smoking process does not achieve a core temperature of 140°F/60°C for at least one minute.

What are the specific requirements for meat products that require freezing for killing parasites?

Meat products that are subject to a freezing treatment must be must reach an internal temperature less or equal to -4°F/-20°C for not less than 24 hours, or -31°F/-35°C for not less than 15 hours. The freezing must reach all parts of the product.

Are there any exemptions from the freezing requirements?

Yes. Food businesses do not need to apply a freezing treatment to meat products, if they meet at least one of these conditions: Meat products have been, or before consumption, are due to be heat treated at a level that is sufficient to kill viable parasites. This is 140°F/60°C for at least one minute for parasites other than trematodes. Meat has been preserved as frozen meat products for a sufficiently long period to kill the viable parasites. This includes meat products that have been commercially frozen at – 0, 4°F/-18°C for at least 4 days for storage, transport and distribution purposes. Raised animals fed on a diet that cannot contain viable parasites, and: Have been exclusively raised in an environment that is free from viable parasites; Or where the food business can verify that the meat products do not present any health hazards in relation to parasites, through procedures approved by the competent authority.

Are there any documentation requirements?

Yes. When meat products that are subject to a freezing treatment are placed on the market they must be accompanied by a document, issued by the food business carrying out the treatment, stating the type of freezing process the products have undergone. Food businesses placing affected meat products on the market which have not been subject to a freezing treatment, and which are not intended to undergo such treatment before consumption, must ensure that they are sourced from breeding that meet the exemption conditions. This information can be provided in the commercial documentation or any other information accompanying the meat products.

Does documentation need to be supplied to the final consumer?

No. The documentation requirements do not apply to meat products supplied to the final consumer.

Who has responsibility for carrying out any required freezing treatment?

Food business operators placing meat products on the market that are subject to the EU freezing requirements are legally responsible for applying a freezing treatment. This could be either the meat supplier or a restaurant serving the meat for example, depending on the circumstances and the point at which meat products are marketed for raw consumption. In some cases, it may not be known at the initial point of supply if fresh meats are intended to be consumed raw or cooked before consumption, particularly if products are exported or placed on the market via a distributor or wholesaler. This means the need to apply a freezing treatment may not be established until further down the food supply chain. Buyers of meat products, who intend to market a product which requires a freezing treatment, should specify the need for this to the supplier. Alternatively, the purchaser may wish to carry out the treatment themselves. It is considered that this would be in line with food safety management obligations for food businesses under Regulation (EC) 852/2004. The provisions are intended to be flexible enough to allow the freezing process to be applied at the most appropriate point in the food chain and, notwithstanding the legal obligations outlined above; commercial agreements may be reached between suppliers and customers as to who takes responsibility for the freezing obligation. It is advised that this is done transparently with a high regard for consumer safety, and is auditable by the relevant enforcement authority.

How can it be demonstrated that a freezing treatment has been applied?

The food business applying a freezing treatment must ensure that the meat products are accompanied by a document indicating the type of freezing process the products have undergone. Without this documentation it may not be obvious to any receiving businesses whether or not they had an obligation to apply a freezing treatment to meat they intended to market for raw consumption. Products which are received without a document indicating the type of freezing process the products have undergone should be considered not to have been frozen until the evidence of freezing has been provided. Source: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/meat/freezing-requirements-guidance

Prevention

Everyone can play it safe when buying, preparing, and eating specific foods. Find out how at FoodSafety.gov, the federal gateway for food safety information. Listeria is a harmful germ that can hide in many foods. Outbreaks of Listeria infections in the 1990s were primarily linked to deli meats and hot dogs. Now, Listeria outbreaks are often linked to dairy products and produce. Investigators have traced recent outbreaks to soft cheeses, celery, sprouts, cantaloupe, and ice cream. Read on to learn which foods are more likely to contain Listeria and how you can take steps to protect your health, which is especially important for pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and people with compromised immunity. Most people with listeriosis are in one of these three groups.

Queso fresco and other soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk (also called raw milk) are estimated to be 50 to 160 times more likely to cause Listeria infection than when they are made with pasteurized milk. Although pasteurization of milk kills Listeria, products made from pasteurized milk can still become contaminated if they are produced in facilities with unsanitary conditions.

Recommendations for everyone:

Make sure the label says, “Made with pasteurized milk.” Be aware that Hispanic-style cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as queso fresco, have caused Listeria infections, most likely because they were contaminated during cheese-making. Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity: Avoid eating soft cheese, such as queso fresco, queso blanco, panela (queso panela), brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or feta, unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk.

Raw sprouts

Sprouts need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli. Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity: Do not eat raw or lightly cooked sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts). Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce your risk for getting sick. Thorough cooking kills the harmful bacteria. When you’re eating out, ask that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you buy a ready-made sandwich, salad, or Asian food, check to make sure it doesn’t contain raw sprouts. NOTE: Rinsing sprouts will not remove bacteria. Home-grown sprouts also can make you sick if you eat them raw or lightly cooked.

Melons

Recommendations for everyone: Eat cut melon right away or refrigerate it. Keep cut melon refrigerated at 41° F/5 °C, or colder and for no more than 7 days. Throw away cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours.

Hot dogs, pâtés, lunch meats, and cold cuts

Recommendations for everyone: Don’t let juice from hot dog and lunch meat packages get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces. Wash hands after handling hot dogs, lunch meats, and deli meats. Safely store products in the refrigerator: Hot dogs: Store opened packages no longer than 1 week in the refrigerator and unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Lunch and deli meat: Store factory-sealed, unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity: Avoid eating hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (such as bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F/74 °C, or until steaming hot just before serving. Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. Foods that do not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads, are safe to eat. Refrigerate these foods after opening.

Smoked seafood

A food is called shelf-stable if it can be safely stored at room temperature or “on the shelf.” Eating canned and shelf-stable tuna, salmon, and other fish products is not considered to increase your chance of getting sick from Listeria. It’s important to know that not all canned foods are shelf-stable. Some canned foods are labeled “Keep Refrigerated.” Examples of such items include refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel. Refrigerated smoked seafood items are often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky” and typically found at seafood or deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity: Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is canned or shelf-stable or it is in a cooked dish, such as a casserole.

Raw (unpasteurized) milk

Raw milk is milk from any animal that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Raw milk (also called unpasteurized milk) can carry harmful bacteria, including Listeria, and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. Although it is possible to get foodborne illness from many kinds of foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all. Raw milk made into other products, such as soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, can also cause dangerous infections. When consuming these products, make sure they are made from pasteurized milk. Recommendations for everyone, especially people at higher risk, including infants and young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity: Only consume pasteurized milk and milk products, including soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. Look for the word “pasteurized” on the label. If in doubt, don’t buy it! Keep milk and milk products refrigerated at 40°F/5 °C, or colder. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html

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