Fish parasites are mainly a problem in certain species of wild fish and can cause illness in humans if eaten. All fishery products must be inspected to remove visible parasites before being sold. Cooking will kill them, but freezing kills any parasites that may remain undetected in fish products intended to be consumed raw or almost raw.
After research commissioned by the Food Standards Agency in Scotland showed there is a negligible risk of parasites from farmed salmon, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed the available evidence on the presence of parasites in wild and farmed fish.
Following the EFSA review, the European Commission and member states reviewed the hygiene legislation and agreed requirements in December 2011, which allow a risk-based approach to be taken when applying the freezing requirements for fishery products. These requirements are being implemented in all UK countries from today.
Linden Jack, Head of the Food Hygiene Policy Branch of the FSA said: ‘The relaxation of these rules is good news for responsible fish producers who are making every effort to minimise the risk of parasites in fish. It will mean less of a regulatory burden on their business, without compromising consumer safety.
‘The FSA’s research into this issue played an important part in the review of the controls. It is further evidence of our commitment to apply the most proportionate risk controls on food businesses based on the best science.’