The Norwegian system adheres to international standards, but we also have our own stringent national system, through which we monitor every aspect of our food chain.
Norway works closely with EU Food Law and our country was one of the first to introduce a traceability system for fish. Through this system, we’re able to say exactly where your herring was caught.
At a national level, the Ministry for Trade, Industry and Fisheries is responsible for everything from Norway’s sea transport infrastructure to the health and welfare of our fish.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority councils the Ministry and is concerned with seafood safety. Together, these two bodies help to ensure that Norway’s seafood is safe to eat and that our seas continue to function as a healthy home for fish.
Seafood is our biggest export after oil, so it's extremely important for our economy that we continue to meet, if not exceed, international demands for quality and safety. By ensuring that everyone works together at every level of our food chain, we can protect the quality and safety of our produce. Working together ensures that Norwegian herring has a provenance you can trust.
Our system of surveillance requires each organisation – NFSA, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Fishermen’s sales organizations, NSC and the IMR – to co-operate with one another to achieve our safety and quality goals.
By working together, we're able to analyse the entire production process – from fisherman to fork – to ensure food safety.
The rules that ensure the quality and safety of our seafood can be found in the Norwegian Quality Regulation Act of 14 June 1996. This regulation formed the basis of the Norwegian Food Act of 2004.
Of course, there’s no point making rules if they aren’t implemented. The Norwegian Safety Authority has put in place a series of surveillance and monitoring programmes, which operate throughout the entire seafood production chain. You can find out more about our Managing and Monitoring system on the dedicated page, but we’ve listed some of the key programmes below:
- Dioxin and dioxin like PCBs in feedstuffs and foods (EU Recommendation 2004/704 and 2004/705)
- Chemical and microbiological substances in processed seafood
- Flame retardants and other new organic contaminants
- Heavy metals and metal species (mercury, methyl mercury, arsenic and inorganic arsenic) in selected seafood
We began an extensive monitoring programme in 1994. Today, the Institute of marine research(IMR) is responsible for “Seafood Data”, a searchable database full of useful reports about seafood. This includes monitoring contaminants and heavy metals in fish and other seafood products. Samples are taken primarily from the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. The frequency of testing depends on the importance of the species of fish. Herring is currently monitored every three years between January and February, when IMR samples 25 fish from two positions within the spawning grounds.