Anger over Mowi and Lerøy processing exemption

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Salmon companies in Norway have been given temporary exemptions from strict processing rules

A DECISION by Norway’s food safety authority to grant Mowi and Lerøy Seafood exemption from some of the country’s tough processing rules has come under fire from other sections within the industry.

The main rule, brought in a number of years ago to protect the reputation of Norwegian seafood, states that salmon and other fish with certain defects should be sorted and processed at home before being exported.

But a number of smaller processing businesses have said they plan to launch an appeal against the decision, which was made in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Their appeal will be on the grounds that the food safety authority does not have the power to make such a decision because the scheme is administered by the seafood council. They also believe it could do long term damage to the industry’s good name.

The food safety authority is reported to have granted the exemption on the grounds that Mowi and Lerøy, two of the largest salmon exporters, may not be able to find enough processing capacity in Norway and will want to do some of the work overseas.

But Robert Eriksson, CEO of the seafood processing companies’ trade organisation, said he believed there was plenty of spare capacity in the country.

He had been in touch with a number of small and medium sized businesses who said they had not been contacted by either Mowi or Lerøy.

Erickson warned: ‘The rule that production fish must be processed here ensures that our seafood is of the highest quality and is used in our marketing worldwide.’

He said he now plans to take his organisation’s protest to the new seafood minister, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, and ask him to cancel the exemption.

Erikson added: ‘The Norwegian seafood brand has been painstakingly built up since 1991. For our small and medium-sized companies, this brand is our backbone and absolutely crucial.’

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