NORWAY’S seafood industry has been jolted by a French TV documentary which claims that fish, mainly cod, being sent to China for processing is returning to Europe, including the UK, full of water and chemicals.
The programme, titled ‘Mollo sur le cabillaud? (literally, Easy on the cod), shows how after the fish arrives in China it is injected with E-451 or pentasodium triphosphate.
While phosphate is not considered to be dangerous in small amounts, the French documentary is claiming that excessive consumption can lead to diseases, including kidney and heart and vascular problems.
The documentary has opened a huge debate in Norway over sending fish to the Far East for processing, with critics claiming it is damaging the country’s reputation for clean, high quality seafood.
It is not just French TV viewers who are being told – the programme has been showed five million times on Facebook.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority said it strictly supervises all products and producers to ensure that they comply with the regulations.
‘All additives used in food should be approved and it should be labelled accordingly,’ it said. ‘In Norway’s case, there is no cause for concern. We oversee all manufacturers to ensure that they comply with the regulations.’
And Norway’s fisheries minister, Harald Tom Nesvik, said that while he was not happy with what has emerged, the argument was essentially about production practices in China, not the quality of Norwegian fish, whether caught from the sea or farmed.
‘The EU and Norway have a strict regulatory framework about how much phosphate and water can be added to fish, and how the products should be labelled,’ he said.
‘The producers in China must adhere to the same limit values as the producers in Europe if they are to be allowed to export to the EU or the EEA market.
‘If Chinese exporters are cheating then the European Commission can withdraw their licences.’
Lerøy chief Webjørn Barstad said his company did not inject its fish in Norway with anything, adding that Norwegian companies had little or no control over what happens in China.
Picture: Norwegian fisheries minister Harald Tom Nesvik