MOSCOW, July 23 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s authorities have lifted a ban on vegetables import from the Czech Republic and Greece, the Federal Consumer Rights and Human Well Being Service (Rospotrednadzor) reported.
“Since July 11, 2011 vegetables import from the Czech Republic and Greece and their trade on the territory of the Russian Federation has been allowed on the basis of security certificates,” Rospotrednadzor said.
So, vegetables import to Russia has been permitted from six EU countries – Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Greece.
The service also continues to study information from the European Commission on other eight countries, competent structures and laboratories that are authorised to give certificates, which will guarantee the absence of E.coli bacteria.
Chief sanitary inspector Gennady Onishchenko said earlier that another nine countries of Europe could get a permit to import vegetables to Russia shortly.
“We got a permit to Poland. Nine countries, including France and Germany, are next. Till now we haven’t allowed them to import their vegetables. Now we’re discussing the situation,” Onishchenko told journalists.
Vegetables import from Europe will be banned on June 2 due to the enteric infection.
Since the end of June Europe has been gotten a permit on vegetables import to Russia. As of today seven European countries – the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Greece and the Czech Republic – have been allowed to import vegetables to Russia.
At the same time, Onishchenko said the danger of infections remained.
The chief sanitary inspector recognised that the disease intensity had diminished. But he pointed out that the disease continued to spread. “On July 19, Germany registered three disease cases,” Onishchenko said, adding, “We are concerned over this situation.”
The Federal Consumer Rights and Human Well Being Service permitted the imports of Hungarian and Italian vegetables starting from July 25 on condition “the vegetables have a certificate issued by appropriate authorities in home countries.”
The certificates will guarantee the absence of E.coli bacteria in the imported products.
A protocol of June 22, 2011, has allowed the resumption of vegetable imports from Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, France and the Czech Republic.
Russia banned the imports of European vegetables on June 2 and said it would permit European vegetables on its market after it received information about the source of the infection, the mechanism of its transmission and geography.
The European Commission called on Russia to withdraw the ban immediately.
The Commission said it “protested to the Russian Federation against the Russian ban on all EU vegetable exports to Russia, and requested the immediate withdrawal of the measure.”
The commission, which called the measure “disproportionate,” said it lodged its complaint in a letter sent by EU Health Commissioner John Dalli to the Russian authorities.
It also “expressed concerns” about the ban and noted that the latest tests carried out in Spain and Germany showed that cucumbers were not responsible for the outbreak of the deadly strain of E.coli in Germany.
The commission, which removed Spanish cucumbers from its food alert system for the 27-nation EU, also said the outbreak “is restricted to a limited geographical area — it is affecting primarily the northern part of Germany.”
On June 22, Russia’s authorities and representatives from the European Union signed an agreement to resume vegetables import from Europe. The agreement binds European vegetable exporters to present certificates of the origin of their products proving they have no E.coli bacteria that caused an enteric epidemics in Europe.
The Federal Consumer Rights and Human Well Being Service banned the imports of cucumbers and some other vegetables from Germany and Spain on May 31. If the situation does not improve, the imports of such products from Europe will be banned fully, Onishchenko said.
The first reports of foods infected with coliform bacteria came from Germany on April 25. Onishchenko said he was surprised why the situation had not been taken under control until now. “Being an epidemiologist, I cannot understand why people fall ill in northern Germany and not in Spain. I also wonder why German epidemiological services have not resolved the problem over the past month.”
Onishchenko lauded the Russian position at the negotiations on the accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which defends the domestic norms of the content of antibiotics in meat products. “You [Europe] have the antibiotics norm of 0.3, while our norm is 0.01,” he said. The high content of antibiotics in European meat is the cause of the high resistance of coliform bacteria, which might have triggered the infection outbreak in Europe,” he said.