Russia again cites tainted meat imports from Poland

Oct. 7, 2013 at 12:02 AM
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WARSAW, Poland, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Russia, in keeping with a recent pattern, has again raised questions about the quality of meat from Poland despite assurances it has not launched a trade war.

Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision, Friday raised warnings about a new batch of Polish meat, including poultry from Polskamp Meat Industries and frozen pork from the Skiba meat processing plant, the Polish news agency PAP reported.

Rosselkhoznadzor said laboratory testing of the products revealed the presence of pathogenic bacteria in them, specifically mesophilic microorganisms in the poultry meat and E. coli in the pork products.

The warnings came a week after Rosselkhoznadzor lodged similar objections to chilled pork from the Polish meat producer Biernacki and finished pork products from the Sokolow S.A. plant in Czyzew, Poland, the news agency said.

The latest tests came with a warning from the Russian regulators to their Polish counterparts, citing the "inadmissibility of such violations" and cautioning that Russia has introduced "a new regime of intensified laboratory controls on the products of these companies."

Rosselkhoznadzor in recent months has reported concerns about the quality of Polish meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables. It also uncovered illegally transported Spanish bacon, hidden in the marrow of Polish pork, and pulled 12 tons of Polish cheese because of counterfeit labels.

Russia has not ruled out imposing an embargo on imports of Polish meat and milk production, but Polish officials insisted last month there is no trade war brewing with Russia.

Polish Deputy Minister of Agriculture Tadeusz Nalewajk last month discounted the possibility of a "meat war," saying the problems over the banned meat and cheese had been resolved and Poland had committed itself to additional phytosanitary controls, Polish Radio reported.

Peter Zieman, head of the Polish Association of Butchers and Meat, told the broadcaster Russians are extremely sensitive about their meat supplies because Polish imports represent competition for Russian producers.

"We are the leader on a global scale, the global leader in exporting," he said.

Polish Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba told the broadcaster each case of tainted food must be thoroughly investigated. If there is a suspicion of collusion and falsification of documents, all the relevant authorities must be involved, including the Internal Security Agency.

He asserted that in all but a few "marginal cases," Polish food is of very good quality, and its export is an important branch of the country's economy.

Poland's agri-food sector employs about 400,000 people and last year was valued at $23.7 billion, representing 12.3 percent of the country's overall foreign sales, The Financial Times reported.

Its beef export market has been valued at $1.2 billion per year, and has been growing steadily since Poland's accession to the EU in 2004.

The Polish-Russian disputes concerning the quality of Polish food production will be the subject of talks this week between Polish Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Fyodorov, the Polish daily Nowy Dziennik reported.

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