A recent report from the Finnish Food Authority reveals that Finland experienced an uptick in food safety incidents in 2021. The report summarizes Finland’s regulatory food safety activities for the year, including official controls and monitoring programs related to food and feed, research, and risk assessments. Despite the dramatic increase in the country’s food recalls during 2021, the report expresses that the results of official controls and investigations indicate that the Finnish food safety system works well and that the country has maintained an acceptable level of food safety.
In total, there were 309 food recalls issued in Finland in 2021, marking the sixth consecutive year that the nation has seen increased food recall activity. Of the 309 food recalls, 72 were attributed to ethylene oxide, followed by 33 pesticide-related recalls and 29 allergen-related recalls. Microbiological contaminants prompted 49 recalls, 26 of which were linked to Salmonella. Other microbial hazards that led to recalls include Listeria monocytogenes and mold. Non-EU products were the subject of more than half of the recalls.
The report also discussed Finland’s outbreak activity and other food safety incidents in 2021. Regarding allergens, there were 47 recorded reports of anaphylaxis caused by food. Additionally, a total of 46 foodborne illness outbreaks affecting 1,378 people were reported in 2021, which is an increase from the 34 recalls that affected 543 people in 2020. The report notes that the number of outbreaks for which the source was unable to be determined declined in 2021, indicating an improvement in outbreak investigations. Specific details of Finland’s 46 foodborne illness outbreaks in 2021 that were mentioned in the report include:
- Norovirus was the most common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks, accounting for nine outbreaks with 260 people affected
- In total, seven outbreaks affecting 824 people were linked to Salmonella, a dramatic increase from 2020’s three Salmonella outbreaks that affected 21 people
- One Salmonella outbreak affected over 700 people, and was traced back to salads containing iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and peas that were served to students in a school
- In 2021, two Escherichia coli outbreaks occurred affecting 80 people; in 2020, one E. coli outbreak affected 10 people
- In 2021, six Campylobacter outbreaks affected 60 people; in 2020, three Campylobacter outbreaks affected 43 people
- In 2021, two L. monocytogenes outbreaks affected six people; in 2020, two L. monocytogenes outbreaks affected 37 people
- Yersinia enterocolitica caused two outbreaks that affected nine people
- Clostridium perfringens caused one outbreak that affected 12 people
- Nine people contracted histamine poisoning.
Finally, the report touched upon food fraud that occurred in Finland in 2021. At present, Finnish customs is investigating a case that began in 2021 and involves the smuggling of animal byproducts. A total of 1.3 million kilograms of fish waste was illegally imported from Denmark to a Finnish fur fodder mixing plant, and then the fur fodder for which the fish waste was used was sent to approximately 50 fur farms in Finland. The total value of the smuggled goods reached more than €200,000 ($201,000).