Russia waiting for EU safety guarantees on vegetables

08:44, June 16, 2011      

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Russia's chief sanitary inspector said Wednesday that Moscow was still waiting for European Union safety guarantees on its vegetable produce.

"The situation in Europe does not make for great optimism ... in spite of all the efforts of the EU to try and get a handle on the problem," Gennady Onishchenko was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

"We are waiting for suggestions and certificates which will affirm the safety of produce that would be brought in (to Russia)."

Also on Wednesday, Russia's food safety and sanitary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said in a report that EU vegetable produce could not be the primary source of the deadly E. coli bacteria infection.

"The infection of plants with E. coli can only be the secondary," the report says.

The watchdog warned the EU has still not identified the source of the highly pathogenic strain of E. coli, adding that Rosselkhoznadzor "reserves the right to apply additional measures to produce imported from EU countries."

The deadly E. coli outbreak has so far killed 37 people, mostly in Germany, and infected thousands of others.

Russia is the EU's largest market for vegetable exports. It buys 1.1 million tons of vegetables, valued at 600 million euros (858 million U.S. dollars), from the 27-nation bloc every year, accounting for a quarter of the EU's total exports.

Source: Xinhua
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