19 Jul 2010 16:27

Russia may bank Moldovan wine imports

MOSCOW. July 19 (Interfax) - Russia will prohibit the import of wine from Moldova if it does not soon resolve its quality issues, head of the consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor and Russia's chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onischenko told Interfax on Saturday.

Russia may have to take this step because laboratory analysis has turned up harmful substances in half the wine shipped from Moldova, particularly dibutylphtalate, Onischenko said.

"If the situation doesn't change in the next two weeks, and for every bottle of quality wine is shipped a bottle of low-grade wine, prohibitive measures will be imposed," he said.

"If Moldova does not take measures soon, then we will be taking prohibitive action to see that Russian customs agencies and Russian laboratories are not encumbered with stating this obvious disgrace. Most of all, why risk it?, Onischenko said.

During the week that began July 7, elevated levels of dibutylphtalate were detected in 43,200 bottles of Moldovan wine from fourteen consignments, he said.

"As of June 26, we had culled almost a million liters of Moldovan wine industry product overall," Onischenko said. "Moldova has not taken any meaningful measures."

"One conclusion suggests itself: the Moldovan wine-making sector, according to parameters of observance of technological processes and quality control over wine products, has virtually returned to the level of 2006. For the country this means economic catastrophe at the very least, considering this is a leading sector," Onischenko said.

Russia imposed a ban on wine products from Moldova in 2006 over safety and quality concerns. Since the summer of 2007, products from more than forty Moldovan wineries have undergone sanitary and epidemiological inspections prerequisite to resuming shipments to Russia.

"The actions of those who run the Moldovan wine-making sector, who don't produce any results but do create a lot of noise, of course cannot help but generate growing concerns that could grow into more decisive prohibitive actions," Onischenko said.

"It would seem everything needs to be tossed out and order imposed," he said.

The dibutylphtalate detected in Moldovan wines is a transparent toxic liquid with a weak fruity odor. It is a class-2 dangerous substance that causes toxic hepatitis and presents a particular health hazard when regularly ingested, Onischenko said.