The powers held by Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor over the quality control of meat in Russia are being challenged. Gennady Onishchenko, chief sanitary inspector at Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service on Surveillance for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing), is proposing to make his organisation the only one to carry out veterinary controls in the country.
Onishchenko’s proposal has been submitted to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and is now under consideration. However, the initiative has sparked outrage among the representatives of the agricultural market, as well as officials.
"If Rospotrebnadzor’s proposals are adopted, then the whole system of food, biological and consumer security in the country will be completely destroyed," said a source in Rosselkhoznadzor. "Russian borders will be open to unsafe products from all over the world and the country that is unable to provide its own biological safety will be deprived access to international markets."
At present control functions for meat product quality are divided between Rosselkhoznadzor and Rospotrebnadzor on the following principles: everything that can contain micro-organisms that cause diseases in animals and plants is the handled by Rosselkhoznadzor, while anything that has to do with quality and safety of products for humans is handled by Rospotrebnadzor.
Given this situation, representatives of the largest meat production companies also consider Rospotrebnadzor’s initiative as pointless. "Why do we need to divert resources and time discuss these issues, which are completely irrelevant, when the country still has many unresolved problems?" asked Viktor Linnik, president and co-owner of Miratorg, one of the largest agro-industrial holdings in the country.
According to Linnik, in most countries, control over the quality of meat products is carried out by a single body, created on the basis of the veterinary department. "Rospotrebnadzor is laying claim to an authority that it technically cannot and should not carry out," he said.