Riigikogu committee: Fish production plant sector safety standards sound ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Tarmo Tamm (Centre) is chair of the Riigikogu rural affairs committee.
Tarmo Tamm (Centre) is chair of the Riigikogu rural affairs committee. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Riigikogu's rural affairs committee determined that safety controls and checks in the fish products industry in Estonia were satisfactory and consistent, guaranteeing the safety of products in that sector. The announcement follows news last month that listeria bacteria involved in the deaths of two people in Estonia and a further six across Europe had been traced back to the M.V. Wool fish factory just outside Tallinn.

Rural affairs committee chair Tarmo Tamm (Centre) said that the sitting examined factors behind the reports of listeria bacterium found in M. V. Wool fish processing plant. According to Tamm, the scandal snowballed as the findings were arbitrarily linked to unrelated events. 

"We and the institutions concerned became convinced that the products from M. V. Wool fish processing plant are safe, and do not adversely affect consumers' health," Tamm said, according to BNS.

While the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) detected the listeria bacterium in question at the M. V. Wool production facility itself, consistent checks have indicated that the plant's finished goods are safe and can be sold to consumers.

VTA representatives also said that food safety checks have been implemented, and also remain ongoing at M. V. Wool, to ensure compliance. Results from recent checks have not indicated any spread of the bacteria, it is reported.

Urmas Kruuse (Reform), committee deputy chair, noted the importance of problems relating to food safety being addressed publicly to ensure consumer awareness regarding the quality of foodstuffs.

"Full disclosure is the basis of food safety," Kruuse said, according to BNS.

"This is the best method to earn consumers' trust," he continued, qualifying this by saying that he saw rural affairs minister Mart Järvik's (EKRE) interference in VTA activities in relation to the controversy as inappropriate. 

Järvik said early last week that the VTA had not provided him with any evidence that M.V.Wool's products were dangerous, despite the reports.

"The VTA is an independent organization, and interfering in its activities questions the integrity of the officials monitoring food safety. No minister can call into question internationally-recognized methods," Kruuse went on.

"As a result, the trustworthiness of both our officials as well as the quality of our agri-food products, has declined," Krusse continued.

The week before last, ETV show Pealtnägija reported that listeria bacteria had been traced back to the M.V.Wool fish plant, the largest in Estonia. The bacteria had been contracted by nine people in Estonia, two of whom died as a result, as well as six more outside Estonia.

Genetic tests commissioned by the VTA determined the bacteria to be ST1247 which had originated in the factory, in Harku. Bacteria from this specific strain have been found both in the plant's production building as well as from those people that fell ill.

Listeriosis is a serious transmissible disease caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which is especially dangerous to pregnant people, newborns, the elderly and others with a compromised or weak immune system.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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