Customs intercept rotting fish and illegal medicinal products

Customs authorities in Rotterdam last week intercepted a major shipment of fish products and medicinal products in a container with food coming from Nigeria. The goods were meant for the Dutch market.

Valid health certificates had to be submitted for the fish products. Moreover, the products had to be presented for inspection by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority ("VWA"). The importer did not have those health certificates, nor had the fish been presented to the VWA. The requisite marketing authorisation for the medicinal products falling under the Dutch Medicinal Products Act was not available.

On opening the container customs officers encountered nine bales of rotting fish and sixteen parcels with fish conserve. The fish was not stored in an insulated container and accordingly had begun to rot during transport. The customs officers decided to alert the VWA inspectors. The latter seized the shipment for public health reasons.

Aside from fish the same container also held circa 1,600 tubes of medicinal products. The tubes contained skin cream against dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. All creams contain adrenocortical steroids. These steroids suppress certain physical reactions to inflammations and infections. Importers must have a marketing authorisation to put those medicinal products on the Dutch market. This requirement allows the government to ensure that no medicinal products are marketed that may be harmful to public health or whose effect is uncertain. The importer for whom both fish and medicinal products were meant was unable to present the required documents.

The entire contents of the containers were seized and transferred to the VWA and the Health Inspectorate for further investigation.