Russian official sees no reason to ban EU meat exports over horsemeat scandal

The director of the consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor and Russia's chief epidemiologist, Gennady Onishchenko, has said he sees no reason to ban meat exports from European Union member countries because horsemeat has not been found in imported meat products sold on the Russian market.

Europe continues investigating how much horsemeat has been sold as beef.

"Monitoring continues. So far, we see no reason to introduce restrictive measures," Onishchenko said.

The Russian agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor announced on Wednesday that horsemeat had been detected in hot dogs delivered from Europe to the Russian market.

Onishchenko did not confirm the report.

"We have been examining products for the presence of horsemeat. Sixty-three samples have been taken from products sold at Moscow chain stores. None of them has tested positive. All results were negative," he said.

Onishchenko discussed this issue with European Commission Director General for Health and Consumers Paola Testori Coggi on Wednesday.

"She assured me officially that the situation is under control," the Russian official said.

The European Commission representative said that products in which horsemeat was found were not allowed to be sold in Russia, he said.

"European Commission representatives also confirmed officially that phenylbutazone was not found in any samples especially selected by them. Phenylbutazone was allegedly found during a routine inspection of one of the batches on UK territory," Onishchenko said.

"When I asked what consequences would face the producer who deliberately committed this violation [passed off horsemeat as beef], she told me that, in accordance with national legislation, he could face administrative sanctions and possibly criminal prosecution," Onishchenko said.

Onishchenko said that during the telephone conversation, he also mentioned the idea of German Economic Development Minister Dirk Niebel, who reportedly proposed distributing meat products with defects among poor people. Onishchenko criticized this initiative last week.

"It turns out that it is possible to feed poor people without any rules. But my question was left hanging in the air," Onishchenko said.

"We agreed to continue our weekly consultations. An agreement was also reached that if the departure of at least one batch of products containing horsemeat from the EU is detected, we will be informed of it immediately," he said.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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