Norwegian Firm Discovers Sale of Unsafe Salmon

February 7, 2024

A Norwegian company, Pure Norwegian Seafood (PNS), disclosed that it had been selling frozen salmon unfit for human consumption for several years. The findings emerged following an internal investigation by the PNS board into suspected irregularities in the sale of frozen salmon, which had gone undetected by prior regulatory inspections, controls, and audits.

The board of PNS became suspicious towards the end of October 2023, prompting the immediate halt of frozen salmon sales, recall of affected products, and suspension of two individuals within the company. Fortunately, there have been no reports of related illnesses.

The investigation uncovered that PNS had sold frozen salmon deemed unsuitable for human consumption under Norwegian regulations, including self-dead fish, floor fish, and sexually mature fish, all of which are illegal categories for sale. Although tests for Salmonella yielded negative results, the percentage of samples showing Listeria monocytogenes was higher than expected, though confined to the outer surface of the fish and without reports of health issues.

Sales of these unsuitable salmon occurred primarily to around 20 customers, particularly in Eastern Europe, with evidence suggesting that these buyers were aware of the nature of the product they were purchasing. However, it remains unclear what became of the final products.

Estimates indicate that the volume of salmon not fit for consumption constituted less than 1 percent of PNS’s total fish sales between 2020 and 2023, amounting to approximately 500 tons. Additionally, PNS was found to have exported salmon without proper domestic processing, totaling between 300 and 400 tons over the past four years.

Helge Kvalvik, chair of the PNS board, expressed deep concern over the investigation’s findings, calling them “serious and disappointing.” While the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was notified promptly, Kvalvik acknowledged the need for continued efforts to address the issues uncovered.

Remy Stromskag, acting CEO of PNS, acknowledged the gravity of the situation and expressed commitment to preventing similar incidents in the future, emphasizing ongoing efforts to rectify the situation and ensure compliance with regulations.

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