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MOSCOW, March 26 (Itar-Tass) —— Specialists from Russia’s consumer rights protection authority (Rospotrebnadzor) on Monday begin an inspection of Ukrainian cheese producers who exports their products to Russia, Rospotrebnadzor head and Russia’s chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko told Itar-Tass.
“They begin their visit on Monday. So far we plan they will stay in Ukraine for a week,” he said and added he did not plan to join the inspection himself. “Specialists will work in compliance with our, Russian laws,” he noted.
Back at the very beginning of the year, Rospotrebnadzor expressed concern over the fact that beginning from 2012 supervision over the quality of food products will be performed by the veterinary service. Shortly after, quality checks of Ukrainian cheeses revealed the presence of vegetable oils. “If manufacturers substitute animal fats with other oil, such as pal oil, the product they make cannot be called cheese but rather a cheese-like product and this fact must be stated,” Onishechenko then said. In his words, Ukrainian-made cheeses had no indications they contained palm oils, which is a breach in the law.
The checks revealed the presence of vegetable oils in all the 14 cheese samples tested by Rospotrebnadzor experts, while accompanying documents and labels had no such indications. Apart from that, experts found palmitoleic and linolic acids, and phytosterols.
In the mean time, official Kiev denounce Rospotrebnadzor’s claims, citing the findings of Ukrainian and international experts. On Friday, Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister Valery Khoroshkovsky cited the results of studies carried out by the Institute of Milk and Meat of the Ukrainian Academy of Agrarian Sciences, saying that Ukrainian-made cheeses meet all the requirements of national quality standards and contain no vegetable oils. According to Khoroshkovsky, after Russia’s consumer rights protection authority laid claims to the quality of Ukrainian-made cheeses, the Ukrainian side sent samples of exported cheeses for laboratory tests. “Not a single case of the presence of vegetable oils has been reported,” he said. In his words, more than 300 samples were taken. These samples were also sent for testing to an independent laboratory in the United States.
He also said Ukraine’s government assessed possible losses from Russia’s temporary ban on imports of Ukrainian-made cheeses at an amount of at last 426 million U.S. dollars.
Russia’s consumer rights protection authority banned imports and sales of dairy products made by seven Ukrainian companies, namely Prometey, Chernigov region; Piryatinsky cheese dairy and Gadyachsyr, Poltava region; Bashtansky cheese dairy, Nikolayev region; Lozovsky cheese dairy, Kharkov region; Khmelnitsky butter and cheese dairy, Khmelnitsky region; and Belle Shostka Ukraine, Sumy region.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry has hailed Rospoterbnadzor’s decision to inspect Ukrainian cheese-makers. “We hail the decision of the Russian side to hold quality inspections at these enterprises. It will show that the Russian side is taking efforts to take care of the quality of products and thus the health of Russian citizens rather than attempts to politicize the problem,” Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Voloshin said on Sunday.
Opinion polls demonstrate that the gas and cheese wars between the two neighboring countries are seen as a catalyst of growing dissatisfaction of Ukrainians with Russia’s position in bilateral relations.