Russia claims to reveal dismal structure of EU controls of food safety
Negotiations between Head of the Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert and State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Protection of Human Rights of Germany Robert Kloos took place during another round of consulations between surveillance services of Russia and the Federal Republic of Germany on the sidelines of the international agricultural exhibition “Green Week-2014” in Berlin, according to Russian Vet Authority Rosselkhoznadzor.
The consultations were devoted to safety of products exported from Germany to Russia. The negotiations were held as part of the continuous process of communication which had been established between the sides over the recent years. Unfortunately, due to a great number of problems that had accumulated over time the general background of the negotiations was rather negative. Since powers of the Rosselkhoznadzor had been expanded in order to ensure a more scrupulous border control over imported products, to carry out random laboratory monitoring of harmful contaminants in food and to carry out regular inspections at exporting plants and the whole system of ensuring food safety of products exported from some EU-countries including Germany, it became possible to reveal a rather dismal structure of the surveillance system applied to control safety of meat, dairy and horticultural products imported to Russia.
The measures taken, i.e. instructions and regulations on improving safety control of imports to the Russian Federation and to the CU, numerous restrictions that reduced the number of German exporters by more than a half do not help to achieve the desired goal. In addition to it, there are yawning gaps in the structure of the state laboratory system established to control safety of products, i.e. exactly within the sphere where Germany is supposed to be a trendsetter and other countries entrust certification of their labs to Germany.
During the negotiations in Berlin the Russian side made one more attempt to solve the accumulated problems and compel the German veterinary services to improve the accuracy of control at some plants since compliance with the Russian requirements for safety control is now beyond criticism.
The discussion was focused on the current issues of safety of products exported from Germany to Russia, on the outcomes of the recent inspections carried out at the German food-processing plants and on the possibility to export seed potatoes from Germany to Russia.
As for exports of seed potatoes two Russian importing companies made a request to the Rosselkhoznadzor to examine consignments of German seed potatoes prepared for dispatch. Letters about these consignments were handed over to the German sides so that they could examine the consignments and confirm that the seeds originated from the areas free from objects considered quarantinable for Russia. The Russian experts are ready to visit Germany to control together with the German colleagues preparedness of the German phytosanitary services. It should be reminded that the indicated scheme of cooperation was previously agreed with the representatives of the European Commission as an emergent measure that shall be applied for mutual supplies between the RF and the EU before a common approach for cooperation is elaborated. The outcomes of the inspection carried out from the 9th December till the 13th December 2013 in Schleswig-Holstein Land at the plants producing animal products (4 dairy plants and in some private and governmental laboratories) cannot be considered satisfactory. Significant noncompliances with the CU veterinary and sanitary requirements were detected during the inspection. The dairy plants do not ensure the required control over maximum admissible storage period for raw milk.
There are many questions about certification of animal products exported to Russia. All the inspected plants could not provide documents to confirm there is on-site veterinary control at the point of dispatching products to the Customs Union. At the same time the federal competent authorities do not oversee the measures taken by the regional veterinary services of Germany. Veterinary certificates for dispatched finished dairy products are prepared incorrectly. The inspected laboratories do not ensure full compliance with the guiding principles applied to assess competence of the testing laboratories. Since methods used to test official samples taken for the purposes of the national monitoring for residues of harmful and banned substances, to ensure control and surveillance on behalf of the competent authority, to certify products for export are not validated, there is no confidence that the conclusion on safety of different consignments is true. Internal quality control system of the tests carried out leaves much to be desired, there is not an independent system for veterinary certification control. The situation can be partially solved if it is confirmed as soon as possible that the methods used in the German laboratories comply with the international standards; if the laboratory monitoring for residues of harmful substances becomes more representative; information systems of Russia and Germany are integrated in order to ensure better tracing of the regulated products within the EU before they reach the CU border inspection points and to prevent the fraud cases that had recently become more frequent.