Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Russia bans products of nine Belarusian meat-packing companies

Maryna NOSAVA, Naviny.by

Russias Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring Service (Rosselkhoznadzor) has banned imports from nine Belarusian meat-packing companies, the agencys head, Yury Dankvert, told TASS on Friday.

This decision was made as a result of extensive efforts to monitor the quality of Belarusian food, Mr. Dankvert said. A month ago, we sent these results to the Belarusian colleagues, he said.

Mr. Dankvert said that his agency had found fault with other Belarusian meat producers as well. Nevertheless, he expressed confidence that the flaws would be eliminated with the help of the Belarusian agriculture ministrys Veterinary and Food Supervision Department.

Mr. Dankvert insisted that the quality of Belarusian meat products had sharply deteriorated and blamed the trend on what he called the reliance of Belarusian companies on cheap raw materials from Canada.

Rosselkhoznadzors tests detected excessive levels of antibiotics and the presence of salmonella and Listeria bacteria in Belarusian food, said Darina Isakova, head of the international cooperation department.

The ban applies to Inco-Food, Babulin Hladysh, Belavezhskiya Dalikatesy, Byarozawka Meat Cannery, Homyel Meat-packing Plant, AAT Ahrakambinat Dzyarzhynski, Smalyavichy Broiler Plant, and Servolux Group companies, Ms. Isakova said.

Rosselkhoznadzor has also drawn up a directive that would ban the carriage of Belarusian-made food products to Kazakhstan via Russia without inspections at Russian border checkpoints, Mr. Dankvert said. This is necessary because large amounts of food products subject to Russias sanctions are smuggled into the country using this channel, he said, adding that the directive would be published soon.

Trucks enter Russia under the pretext of carrying European-made food to Kazakhstan but never reach the destination, Mr. Dankvert said. A smuggling ring that enabled frozen meat to find its way from Europe into Russia was broken up earlier this fall, he said.

On October 31, Belarus suspended the export of pork and pork products to Russia until November 11 in response to Rosselkhoznadzors claims that the genome of the African swine fever virus had been detected in Belarusian-imported meat products. In the last several weeks, the watchdog organization has reported finding the viral genome in pork and pork products made by five Belarusian companies, based in Babruysk, Orsha, Minsk, Mahilyow and Bykhaw.

On November 12, Belarusian Deputy Agriculture and Food Minister Vasil Sedzin told reporters that Belarusian companies might resume the export of pork to Russia on December 1.

On November 11, Vasil Pivavar, head of the Veterinary and Food Supervision Department, had a meeting with Mr. Dankvert, Mr. Sedzin said. They agreed to introduce additional measures to monitor the quality of Belarusian food products, he said.

One more round of tests will be carried out, and many Belarusian companies will be free to resume pork exports to Russia on December 1 if everything is okay, Mr. Sedzin said.