The measures concerning fish and shellfish are established with reference to ‘fishery products’ which means1 products caught at sea or in inland waters and products of aquaculture which include:
Fish, fresh or chilled.
Fish fillets and other fish meat (whether or not minced), fresh, chilled or frozen.
Fish, dried, salted or in brine; smoked fish, whether or not cooked before or during the smoking process.
Crustaceans, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine; crustaceans, in shell, cooked by steaming or by boiling in water, whether or not chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine.
Molluscs, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine; aquatic invertebrates other than crustaceans and molluscs, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine.
Prepared or preserved fish; caviar and caviar substitutes prepared from fish eggs.
Crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates, prepared or preserved
Regulation (EC) 104/2000 on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products provides authority for the adoption of marketing standards.2 The scope of these standards may, in particular, cover classification by quality, size or weight, packing, presentation and labelling. In general, where marketing standards have been issued, the products to which they apply may not be displayed for sale, offered for sale, sold or otherwise marketed unless they conform to these standards.
A ‘lot’ means a quantity of fishery products of a given species which have been subjected to the same treatment and may have come from the same fishing grounds and the same vessel.3
2 Hygiene Rules
Hygiene rules in relation to primary production are more extensively covered in the document: General Food Hygiene: Introduction.
‘Primary production’ means the production, rearing or growing of primary products including harvesting, milking and farmed animal production prior to slaughter. It also includes hunting and fishing and the harvesting of wild products.4 Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs defines ‘primary products’ and sets out general arrangements for food business operators carrying out primary production and related activities.5
‘Primary products’ means products of primary production including products of the soil, of stock farming, of hunting and fishing, and therefore includes fish and shellfish:
Fishery products remain primary products even after slaughter, bleeding, decapitation, gutting, removing fins, refrigeration and placing in containers for transport at the level of primary production. The products resulting from further handling of fishery products (e.g. filleting, packaging under vacuum etc.) are not primary products.6
Food business operators carrying out primary production and associated storage, transport and handling operations7 must comply with the general hygiene provisions8 and any specific requirements provided for in Regulation (EC) 853/2004 and are under a general duty, so far as possible, to protect against contamination, having regard to any processing primary products will subsequently undergo.
Requirements for vessels used to harvest fishery products.
- Structural and equipment requirements.
- For vessels.
- Requirements during and after landing.
Requirements for establishments, including vessels, handling fishery products.
- Fresh fishery products.
- Frozen products.
- Mechanically separated fishery products.
- Requirements concerning parasites.
Requirements for certain fishery products.
- Requirements for cooking of crustaceans and molluscs.
- Requirements for fish oil intended for human consumption.
Health standards for fishery products
- Organoleptic properties of fishery products.
- Histamine levels.
-Total volatile nitrogen
- Detection of parasites.
- Toxins derived from poisonous fish.
Wrapping and packaging of fishery products.
Transport of fishery products.
Under Regulation (EC) 854/2004, which sets out the organisation of official controls, Member States must ensure that official controls with respect to fishery products take place as required.10 This includes regular checks on hygiene conditions of landings and first sales, inspections of vessels, examinations, random testing for histamine and other contaminants, and requirements as to the circumstances in which fishery products are to be declared unfit for human consumption.
3 Marketing Standards
Regulation (EC) 2406/96 establishes common marketing standards for a wide range of specified saltwater fish, crustaceans (shrimps, edible crabs and Norway lobsters), cephalopods (cuttlefish), scallops and whelks.11 The marketing standards relate to categories of freshness and size.
The specified fishery products may only be marketed if they meet the requirements of Regulation (EC) 2406/96, save that these requirements do not apply to small quantities of products disposed of directly to retailers or consumers by inshore fishermen.
The freshness category of each lot is determined on the basis of the freshness of the product and a number of additional requirements. Freshness is defined by reference to special ratings for different types of products.12 Products are classified by lot in one of the following freshness categories:
Extra, A or B in the case of fish, selachii, cephalopods and Norway lobsters.
Extra or A in the case of shrimps.
Live Norway lobsters are classified in category E.
Crabs, common scallops and common whelks are not classified according to specific standards of freshness. Only whole crabs, excluding berried females or soft-shelled crabs, may be marketed.
Products are sized by weight or by number per kilogram. Shrimps and crabs, however, are graded in size categories by width of shell; common scallops and common whelks are graded by width of shell.
Lots are placed in size categories in accordance with the a prescribed scale.13 Each lot must contain products of the same size. A small lot need not be of uniform size, but must be placed in the lowest size category represented. The category and presentation must be clearly and indelibly marked, in characters at least 5cm high, on labels affixed to the lot.
The net weight in kilograms must be clearly and legibly marked on each lot. Where lots are put up for sale in standard boxes, the net weight need not be shown if the contents of the box are shown, when weighed before being put up for sale, to correspond to the presumed contents expressed in kilograms.
These provisions are enforced by The Sea Fish (Marketing Standards) Regulations 198614 which makes it an offence to fail to comply with the specified marketing standards and labelling requirements, any person found guilty of an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.15 References to Regulation (EEC) 103/76 and Regulation (EEC) 104/76, which have been repealed, apply to Regulation (EC) 2406/96.16
4 Preserved Sardines, Tuna and Bonito
4.1 Preserved Sardines
Regulation (EEC) 2136/89 lays down common marketing standards for preserved sardines and trade descriptions for preserved sardines and sardine-type products. ‘Preserved sardines’ are products prepared from fish of the species Sardina pilchardus and ‘preserved sardine-type products’ means products marketed and presented in the same way as preserved sardines, but prepared from fish of a specified species.17
The Regulation sets out extensive and detailed requirements governing presentation, packaging, quality, descriptions and labelling and which is supplemented and enforced by The Preserved Sardines (Marketing Standards) Regulations 1990.18 Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with these requirements is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
4.2 Preserved Tuna and Bonito
Regulation (EEC) 1536/92 lays down common marketing standards for preserved tuna and bonito and reserves these descriptions to products prepared exclusively from fish of specified species.19 Further requirements are set out as to presentation, packaging and labelling.
The Preserved Tuna and Bonito (Marketing Standards) Regulations 199420 provide similar enforcement mechanisms to those provided in the case of preserved sardines.
5 Labelling Fish
Regulation (EC) 104/2000 operates without prejudice to the general labelling Directive 2000/13/EC on the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs and requires that fishery products listed in items 1 to 7 above may not be offered for retail sale to the final consumer, irrespective of the marketing method, unless appropriate marking or labelling indicates the:
Commercial designation of the species.
Production method (caught at sea or in inland waters or farmed).
The requirements do not apply to small quantities of products disposed of directly to consumers by either fishermen or aquaculture producers.22
Regulation (EC) 2065/2001 lays down detailed rules for the application of Regulation (EC) 104/2000 as regards informing consumers about fishery products. The reference to the production method must consist of one of the following expressions, according to whether the product in question was caught, at sea or in freshwater, or resulted from aquaculture:
‘… caught …’ or ‘… caught in freshwater …’ or ‘… farmed …’ or ‘… cultivated …’23
In the case of species caught at sea, Member States may authorise the omission of the reference to the production method upon sale to the final consumer provided that it is obvious from the commercial designation and the catch area that they are species caught at sea.24
Member States are required to draw up and publish a list of the commercial designations of at least those species specified.25 The list is to indicate the scientific name for each species, its name in the official language or languages of the Member State and, where applicable, any other name or names accepted or permitted locally or regionally.
The Fish Labelling Regulations 201326 make provision for the publication of the list, known as the Commercial Designation of Fish: United Kingdom27 which is now maintained online and can be updated without the need for further secondary legislation. Defra have also issued guidance in a Q&A format which is intended to help fish and shellfish businesses understand better the fish labelling requirements.28
The 2013 Regulations provide the means for enforcing the requirements that consumers of fishery products be provided with the scientific name and previously frozen declarations at the point of retail sale but replace the previous criminal sanctions for breaching the requirements with civil sanctions, except in relation to record keeping and the production of records29 which remain criminal offences and for which any person found guilty of an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
The 2013 Regulations introduce an improvement notice approach consistent with other similar regulations for food.30
The list covers the whole of the UK whereas the enforcement provisions apply to England only.31
6 Fish Weights
Fish, whether fresh, chilled, frozen, salted, cooked or processed and any article which, though it also contains other food, consists substantially of fish, other than fish paste, and which is not pre-packed, must, if sold by retail, be sold only by net weight or, subject to maximum container weights,32 in a container either by net weight or by gross weight.33
Fish must be pre-packed only if the container is marked with an indication of quantity by net weight, except fish in a quantity of less than 5g.34
Fish pies, puddings and flans are exempt these requirements, provided that in the case of more than one item of food pre-packed in a container not marked with an indication of quantity by net weight the number of items in the container is marked on the container or is clearly visible and capable of being easily counted through the container.
Finally, shellfish in shell, jellied fish, pickled fish and fried fish are exempt from the requirement to be sold by net weight, along with any sale of fish made otherwise than from a market, shop, stall or vehicle.35
1 Regulation (EC) 104/2000, Article 1
2 Ibid., Articles 2, 3 and 38(2)
6 European Commission, Guidance Document on the Implementation of Certain Provisions of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004, 2012, p9, para 3.2
7 Regulation (EC) 852/2005, Annex I, Part A, paragraph 1(1)
8 Ibid., Annex I, Part A
9 Regulation 853/2004, Annex III, Section VIII
10 Article 7 and Annex III
11 Regulation (EC) 2406/96, Article 3
12 Ibid., Annex I
13 Ibid., Annex II
15 Ibid. r3
16 Regulation 2406/96, Article 15
18 SI 1990/1084
20 SI 1994/2127
21 Regulation (EC) 2065/2001, Annex
22 Regulation (EC) 104/2000, Article 4
23 Regulation (EC) 2065/2001, Article 4(1)
24 Ibid., Article 4(2)
25 Regulation (EC) 104/2000, Article 4(2) and Annexes I to IV
26 SI 2013/1768
33 Ibid., art 4(2)
34 Ibid., art 4(4)
35 Ibid., art 4(8)