On October 4 Russia’s meat inspectorate, Rosselkhoznadzor, said laboratory tests had turned up pathogenic bacteria in poultry and frozen pork from two plants in Poland. The inspectorate said it would intensify laboratory inspections on products imported from the two plants.
The decision follows a number of such warnings already this year. In September Rosselkhoznadzor said it found bacteria in pork from two other plants in Poland and in August, Russia said it had found a batch of Spanish bacon which had been illegally shipped with a delivery of Polish meat.
Poland exports a significant amount of meat to Russia – some 12,600 metric tonnes in the first half of the year – and some analysts believe that Moscow could be trying to protect domestic producers.
“Russia is trying to restore its meat production,” said Danuta Rycombel of Poland’s Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics, National Research Institute. “They’ve invested a lot of money in it, and to boost their own production they need to curb imports. Claiming that the product doesn’t have the necessary quality is the easiest and most successful way to do so.”
Polish agriculture minister Stanisław Kalemba has said he doesn’t think the moves were directed at curbing Polish imports specifically, pointing out that other EU countries had also received similar warnings.
Mr Kalemba is in Moscow this week holding talks with Russia’s agriculture minister Nikolai Fyodorov. Issues of quality standards are expected to be among the topics discussed.