The Norwegian food authorities are responsible for making sure that it is safe to eat seafood. Regulations are in place throughout the supply chain – from fjord to table. It is the authorities' responsibility to issue regulations that ensure safe seafood, and to make sure that the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (the FSA) monitors compliance in the industry. At the same time, fish farmers themselves have a responsibility to make sure that the seafood they produce is safe and of good quality.
The Norwegian authorities' monitoring systems
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food share the responsibility for Norway's food policies.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health and Care Services share the responsibility for safe seafood.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (the FSA) is the central regulatory authority for Norwegian seafood. The FSA also provides advice to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (FSA)
The FSA is the controlling body for seafood safety and issues related to the health and welfare of fish and shellfish. They are responsible for developing, controlling and managing regulations, and for supervising and monitoring risk throughout the production chain from the sea to the table. The FSA is also involved in the export of seafood, and communicates with the authorities in other countries. The FSA approves and registers seafood businesses, including fish feed manufacturers, salmon slaughterhouses and fish processing sites. Their responsibilities in the private sector include supervision and control of hygiene, fridges and freezer units, water and ice, cleaning and waste disposal, and pest control. Two important tasks are to oversee the companies' internal audit systems and to carry out spot checks throughout the production chain, including inspections and collection of samples for analysis. The FSA is also responsible for the national monitoring programme for seafood safety.
The authorities obtain scientific knowledge from a number of independent professional institutions:
- The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM)
- The Norwegian Veterinary Institute
The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM)
VKM conducts independent, scientific risk assessments for institutions, including the FSA, on all matters that have a direct or indirect effect on food safety throughout the food chain. The committee functions independently of the FSA.
The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES)
The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) is a research institute governed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. NIFES works independently in all academic matters.
NIFES conducts research on nutrition for fish and how eating fish and seafood affects our health, amongst other things. To support a safe and healthy seafood industry, they also provide advice to the government and other authorities as well as to businesses. NIFES runs a program that aims to increase knowledge about organic and inorganic contaminants, additives, medication for fish and other aquaculture organisms, and microorganisms and parasites in fish and seafood.
In addition to research, NIFES carries out audits on behalf of the FSA. They regularly analyze illegal and legal medication and contaminants found in Norwegian farmed fish, for example.
The Norwegian Veterinary Institute
The Norwegian Veterinary Institute is a biomedical research centre that focuses on animal health, fish health and food safety. The Veterinary Institute's main tasks are to conduct research and to support the Norwegian authorities with educational information.
The institute is the government's main supplier of information related to preventing, investigating and treating serious infectious diseases in fish and other animals, including diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans (zoonoses). The institute also works to reduce the amounts of undesirable substances and bio toxins in the food chain.
Norway's monitoring authorities
LMD: responsible for Norwegian food policies together with HOD and NFD
HOD: responsible for safe seafood together with NFD
NFD: responsible for food production from fisheries and aquaculture
Monitoring authorities regulated by the government's ministries
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority: monitors food safety
The Norwegian Environment Agency: monitors pollution
The Norwegian Medicines Agency: approves medication
NIFES: monitors seafood
HI: monitors the sea
VKM: conducts independent risk assessments
The Veterinary Institute: monitors animal health, fish health and food safety