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French embassy in Moscow refutes reports it was concerned over Auchan retail chain checks

August 13, 2015, 15:29 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The embassy inquired with Russia’s agriculture watchdog about the checks in the retail chain

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© AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere

MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. French Embassy in Moscow has said in a statement released on Thursday it inquired with Russia’s agriculture watchdog about the checks in Auchan retail chain, but did not express any concerns on the matter.

"In the morning, Russia media wrote about a letter that was sent by French embassy to sanitary services expressing concerns about checks in Auchan. In fact, the embassy really inquired with Rosselkhoznadzor to get clarifications on technical issues in the framework of working contacts," the statement said adding that "the embassy did not express concerns as it was reported by the media."

Head of Rosselkhoznadzor’s department supervising Moscow and Tula Regions Yevgeny Antonov told M24 Internet channel that the department received a letter from the French embassy expressing concern about checks in Auchan. "On Auchan, we received a letter from the French embassy where they express concern about the situation. We understand everything. But we are doing our work while retail chains should be doing their work," M24 quoted Antonov as saying.

Earlier in August, Rosselkhoznadzor made a decision to send to court the newly-discovered evidence some outlets of the international retailer Auchan were selling forged foods. As the watchdog said, tests of meat products in four Auchan outlets in the Moscow Region exposed forgeries in 89% of products.

Auchan is beginning its own internal investigation, the French retailer’s external communications director, Maria Kurnosova, told TASS.

The watchdog was inspecting Auchan hypermarkets in Moscow and the Moscow Region on July 14-21. "Of the 17 samples examined, 15 failed to match the declared specifications. In fact, 89% of products were falsified," Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement.

"Minced beef also contained pork, chicken and lamb DNA, and minced pork - beef, chicken and lamb DNA, semi-cooked kebob made of beef and lamb - pork, beef and lamb DNA. One variety of meat is replaced with another, less valuable. The exact composition is not mentioned on the price tags, which misleads customers," Rosselkhoznadzor said.

This is not the first violation by Auchan exposed of late. In other instances the retailer prolonged chilled meat’s expiration dates in the process of storage, processing and marketing and also violated marking rules. One Auchan supermarkets used expired salami to cook pizzas.

The latest inspections of Auchan hypermarkets were ordered by Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, Alexeyenko told TASS, adding that the measure followed customers’ complaints about food quality.

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