19 Aug 2009 14:16

Russian watchdog calls U.S. criticism of ban on pork imports unsubstantiated

MOSCOW. Aug 19 (Interfax) - Russian food safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has said the United States' criticism of Russia's ban on pork imports because of fears about the spread of the H1N1 flu is "absolutely unsubstantiated."

U.S. officials had said earlier that Russia's ban on pork imports is groundless.

"This statement once again shed light on the chronic problem of our mutual relations with the Americans as regards providing for the safety of products delivered to Russia," Rosselkhoznadzor press secretary Alexei Alexeyenko told Interfax.

"Instead of calmly resolving issues that arise on a joint basis, we are constantly encountering absolutely unsubstantiated accusations leveled at us and a strange position as regards Russian regulations and requirements," he said.

Moreover, judging by the increased precautions that U.S. farmers are taking to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, the situation is not as simple as it seems and does indeed pose a danger, he said.

Alexeyenko stressed that Russian veterinary and sanitary requirements are based on international norms and regulations, "which Russia follows closely."

"We demand that our trade partners fulfill these regulations strictly. The only, yet imperative, condition for them is to supply us with products that comply with Russian safety norms," he said.

Statements by U.S. specialists that not a single case of the H1N1 virus has been discovered among livestock do not mean that the virus has not infiltrated hogs throughout the country, he said.

The U.S. needs to understand the simple truth that the customer is always right, he said. The customer spends hard-earned money on the products that end up on the table and these products should not cause damage to one's health, he said. "Thus the customer has the right to know what exactly he is buying and not just assume based on the verbal assurances of a glib seller," he said.