Russia's consumer rights watchdog criticizes idea of German minister to give scandal-ridden horsemeat to poor

Head of the consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor and Russia's chief epidemiologist, Gennady Onishchenko, has described as impermissible the proposal of a German Cabinet member to distribute among the poor the horsemeat that has provoked a scandal in Europe.

"The idea is dumb-founding," he said to Interfax on Sunday.

German Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Dirk Niebel suggested distributing the spoiled meat products among the poor, the Russian Service of BBC reported.

"It turns out that what by all standards should be discarded is suggested feeding away to citizens of the European Union, including Germany,  only because they live below the poverty line," Onishchenko said.

"Thriftiness prompted by the common sense psychology of Mr. minister stands above the laws of protecting the rights of consumers when people are offered horsemeat instead of beef. The minister knows that the horsemeat is contaminated with phenylbutazone which is harmful for humans but keeps silent about it," Onishchenko said.

"For me this is another confirmation of the apprehensions that Russia has been tirelessly expressing about the imperfection of the system of quality control and food safety in the European Union," Onishchenko said.

He said that the failures in the European system of food safety are confirmed "by increasing systemic breaches that recur in the European Union with ominous regularity."

As an example he named the spread of intestine infection from the EU over which Russia restricted deliveries of fresh vegetables from Europe.

"There is one conclusion that can be drawn. Given such a psychology of commonsense thriftiness that wipes away all exiting laws, the system of guaranteeing food safety in Europe should be tightened manifold," the Russian official believes.

On Thursday Onishchenko said Russia could impose restrictions on meat exports from EU member countries in response to the continuing horsemeat scandal in Europe.

He said that he had forwarded a letter to the European Commission seeking additional guarantees that products containing horsemeat would not appear on the Russian market.

"Otherwise, we will have to ban these exports until we, to be more precise they, sort out this situation," he said.

"Being reasonably careful would not hurt in this situation. Stay away from lasagna and hamburgers. Buy Russian meat instead," Onishchenko said.

An investigation continues into the Europe-wide scandal over horsemeat sold as beef.

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