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pangas.JPGThere are various rumours around the Internet recently warning consumers against purchasing of imported pangasius. The reasons are food unsafety, low nutrition values, low quality and low price. So what is the true about pangasius?
Pangasius hypophthalmus is a significant freshwater fish which is bred intensively in many countries in the world. It is expanded in the Mekong river delta in the southern part of Vietnam where it is bred in aquaculture farms. The fish is very popular by some consumers due to its white or slightly pink meat with low fat content without typical fish smell. It is placed on the European market in frozen state. The quality and hygiene of this fish is dependent on the quality of water where fish are bred, on the composition of the feed, on production chain, transport, content of additives and subsequent storing.
In compliance with applicable legislation, product of fishery could be imported only from third countries from where it is possible to import only from premises which are approved directly by the European Commission. The list of such premises could be found on the website of the State Veterinary Administration of the CR –, which is the body responsible for inspection of import of animal products, i.e. fishery products as well. Fishery products intended for the EU territory shall be accompanied by veterinary certificate proving that these products are in compliance with EU legislation. Furthermore, animal products from third countries can enter the EU only via border inspection posts where checks of the goods itself and accompanying documentation are carried out. Entry of fishery products into the European market is thus subject to direct rules even before placing on the market itself. Fishery products are also checked in the market network on the basis of risk assessment. State Veterinary Administration and Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority are the bodies responsible for inspections, however, CAFIA is not competent to carry out inspections of fresh fishery products.
During inspections of frozen fish, fish filets of pangasius family, insufficient labelling of products is the most frequent deficiency, when certain additives and salt are missing on the labelling despite they are contained in the product. Additives (polyphosphates, citrates) are used in combination with salt in order water is bound better in fish. Fish is then regarded as tenderer. We have not encountered a case of exceeding the limits for foreign substances so far. Nor have we similar information from other inspection bodies. We are members of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed – RASFF which serves for notification of direct or indirect risks threatening health of human and animals or environment originating from food or feed. Notifications exchanged by the RASFF serve to prevent placing unsafe food and feed on the market or their withdrawal from the common European market. More information on the RASFF is available under this link.
If health unwholesomeness of pangasius originating from the given territory was confirmed in any Member State, we would provide you with such information in time. In previous years, CAFIA did not receive any notifications related to cases of distribution of non-compliant consignments of pangasius into the territory of the CR.
When purchasing frozen fish, consumers should always learn from the labelling the way of production (thus information where the fish came from, whether it was bred or lived in freshwater where it was hunted) and area of fishing. The consumer thus always gets information whether he buys a sea or freshwater fish. These factors determine different nutritional composition of meat. In general, frozen fish may contain added water. If its content is higher than 5 % of the weight, it shall be indicated in the composition. Despite particular content of water does not have to be indicated in the composition, its content could be deduced from the order of single components as these shall be indicated in descending order according to the weight or particular content of fish meat.
Consumers are thus recommended that they always observe information on the labelling carefully and find the product that will suit them the best.