Russia, UAE ban Egyptian produce, Saudi lab say frozen berries safe

Rosselkhoznadzor, the state agricultural safety agency, said on Friday that imports of Egyptian plant products will be banned from next Thursday until Egypt’s authorities take steps to ensure their safety.

jeddah_marriott_no_women_signThe move comes after Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, changed its import regulations to ban any ergot fungus in imported wheat.

It had previously accepted 0.05% of it in imported wheat, a level considered harmless.

The new policy hurt Russia, which is one of the major suppliers of wheat to Egypt.

In the past, Russia often slapped bans on agricultural imports amid political or economic disputes with other nations, citing sanitary reasons.

Meanwhile, the UAE has tightened controls on imports of frozen strawberries from Egypt that may be linked to a hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S. that sickened 119 people

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment on Saturday said it had instructed food control authorities in each of the seven emirates “to tighten control procedures on frozen strawberries imported from Egypt in order to avoid the entry of any contaminated products that pose a risk to the consumer in the country”.

Yesterday, a Saudi laboratory following thorough tests has confirmed that Egyptian frozen strawberries in the market are safe for consumption.

The test negates all the rumours circulating on social media platforms regarding Egyptian frozen strawberry products and their link to the Hepatitis A outbreak reported recently across eight US states.

A day earlier, an official report posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website does not conform to what has been circulated on social media platforms regarding Egyptian frozen strawberries.

The ministry urged the public to refrain from posting or circulating any news on social media platforms without contacting the concerned authorities to verify and validate the credibility of that information before posting.

Yes, that’s exactly how the world works. Some countries also value women as equal citizens, who can drive and play hockey.

And other countries value data. The Saudis offer nothing but an authoritarian decree.

Assholes.

Half are children: 40 hospitalized after anthrax outbreak in Russia

The Siberian Times reports that Russian army biological protection troops have been called in amid warnings of ‘utmost care’ needed to stop anthrax from spreading.

deer.anthrax.russia.jul.16The concern among experts is that global warming thawed a diseased animal carcass at least 75 years old, buried in the melting permafrost, so unleashing the disease. 

A total of 40 people, the majority of them children, from nomadic herder families in northern Siberia are under observation in hospital amid fears they may have contracted the anthrax. Doctors stress that so far there are no confirmed cases. 

Up to 1,200 reindeer were killed either by anthrax or a heatwave in the Arctic district where the infection spread.

Specialists from the Chemical, Radioactive and Biological Protection Corps were rushed to regional capital Salekhard on a military Il-76 aircraft. 

They were deployed by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to carry laboratory tests on the ground, detect and eliminate the focal point of the infection, and to dispose safely of dead animals.

The 40 are all from a total of 63 nomads belonging to a dozen families who were at the site of the outbreak at Tarko-Sale Faktoria camp. The remaining nomads have been evacuated some 60 kilometres from the focus of infection in Yamalsky district.

A prolonged period of exceptionally hot weather in an Arctic Siberian district – with temperatures of up to 35C – has led to melting of permafrost in Yamalo-Nenets and other regions. 

The outbreak of anthrax earlier this week is the first in this part of Russia since 1941.

Officials say 1,200 reindeer have died in recent days, evidently through a combination of infection from anthrax, and the heatwave – unprecedented in living memory.

A major inoculation programme is also underway with a local state of emergency declared at Tarko-Sale Faktoria camp, above the Arctic Circle and close to the Yaro To lake, some 340 kilometres north-east of Salekhard.

Food fraud: Russian-style

Amid reports that Russian intelligence agencies are disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign (summarized as Putin wants to destroy NATO; Russian oligarchs lend Trump money; Trump says he admires Putin & NATO is bad; Russians hack DNC) comes a report documenting widespread food fraud.

Putin-bans-GMO-foods-Russia-Illegal-728x350Peter Hobson of The Moscow Times cites watchdogs as saying dairy producers routinely added starch, chalk and soap to their milk. One-fifth of caviar brands contained bacteria linked to E. coli. Bread bakers were discovered to use “fifth-grade” wheat, the sort usually intended for cattle. More than half the sliced salmon on shop shelves has been judged unsafe.

And those are only the most recent revelations.

Quality control in Russia’s food sector appears to have broken down. Products are plentiful. But behind the glossy labels, their true contents are a lottery.

In Russia’s chaotic history since the downfall of the Soviet Union, there was likely never a golden age of food quality. But things undoubtedly took a turn for the worse in 2010, says Irina Tikhmyanova, a spokesperson for Roscontrol, a non-profit organization that monitors food standards.

Back then, Dmitry Medvedev was president, and his slogan was that “state bodies must stop tormenting business.” One of the bureaucracies to be thrown out was mandatory certification of food.

The old system was not perfect. Many officials were happy to sell certification for a few hundred dollars. But it did ensure that any new product underwent some scrutiny. And its demise tipped the balance of power in the food industry toward business.

Food producers were now required only to declare that their food met quality standards. They, together with retailers, were responsible for quality. The state limited itself to checking each manufacturer once every three years — and undertook to give prior warning before arriving, unless an official complaint was received.

The article goes on to provide an in-depth anaylsis of how and why food fraud has become rampant in Russia.

Why a Kiwi café in Georgia? Sausage-wielding protesters attack patrons at vegan café

This is about Georgia the country, not Georgia, the U.S. state.

Georgia, a proud nation in the Caucasus that went to war with Russia in 2008, is no stranger to conflict. But a weekend assault by sausage-wielding attackers at a vegan cafe in central Tbilisi is fanning concerns that a simmering culture war could be intensifying.

kiwi.cafe.georgiaThe attack began Sunday evening at the bohemian Kiwi Cafe a popular spot for foreigners and Georgians alike – when, witnesses say, more than a dozen men carrying slabs of meat on skewers suddenly showed up and began pelting patrons with grilled meat, sausages and fish.

Witnesses writing on social media said that customers at the cafe, who were watching an animated science fiction sitcom called Rick and Morty, felt intimidated by the men, who refused to leave. The cafe referred to the attackers, some of whom wore sausages around their necks, as anti-vegan “extremists.”

“A group of people who prepared an anti-vegan provocative action, entered and started to be violent,” said a post on the cafe’s Facebook page. “They pulled out some grilled meat, sausages, fish and started eating them and throwing them at us, and finally they started to smoke.” It added, “They were just trying to provoke our friends and disrespect us.”

The cafe said that it called police, but that the assailants fled and no one was arrested.

Who is behind the attacks remains unclear, and analysts cautioned it was too early to say whether the incident was a violent prank, a revolt against veganism or part of a nationalist attack against the freewheeling Western liberal values epitomised by the cafe.

But the cafe said in a statement that the same group of men had come to the neighbourhood last month at night and asked a “friend in the next shop” if members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender community hung out at the cafe.

That has led some analysts to suggest that the attack should be seen against the backdrop of a continuing cultural battle as the country, a former Soviet republic long pulled between East and West, seeks to draw closer to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, even as some conservative forces push back at perceived encroaching liberalism.

Russian state media say French supermarket, Burger King fined over food violations

Russian state news agencies say government officials have issued a total of $600,000 in fines for alleged food safety violations at Burger King and French supermarket chain Auchan.

ussrAnna Popova, head of Russian consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, was quoted by media outlets including RIA Novosti as saying Auchan’s fines totaled over 25 million rubles ($372,000) and that “several hundred” employees were suspended from work.

Specific reasons for the fines were not immediately clear and Auchan declined to comment.

Auchan is also the target of allegations from Russia’s agricultural agency, which claims some Auchan meat products tested positive for bacteria such as E. coli and Listeria. The allegations have reportedly led Auchan to close down some facilities for cleaning.

The inspections come at a time of tension between France and Russia over the extension of European Union sanctions and France’s decision to cancel a deal to provide warships to Russia.


 

Botulism in canned tomatoes in Russia

Botulinum toxin F was found in industrially canned tomatoes linked to a case of botulism. It was registered in the republic of Mariy El, the branch of Rospotrebnadzor reported (Federal agency for protection of consumer rights and human wellbeing).

PomidorkaThe man had eaten tomatoes “Pomidorka” produced by LLC “Agro-Invest” (Kabardino-Balkaria) series 055N 5 N from 17/09/14. The staff of the Rospotrebnadzor have withdrawn this product from the store “Pyaterochka.”

69 sick: Water supply causes mass hepatitis A infection in Russia

Water supply companies in Russia’s republic of Dagestan are facing a criminal investigation after 69 people became infected with Hepatitis A from drinking water.

dangerous_face_waterAn online statement posted Thursday by Russia’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said that cases were recorded in three different places in the North Caucasus republic: the towns of Derbent and Dagestanskiye Ogni and the village of Gedzhukh. Fifty-eight of those infected were children.

The victims all complained of feeling generally ill and noticing a yellow tint to the skin, the RGVK Dagestan television channel reported.

Laboratory testing indicated that the local water supply was to blame for the outbreak, according to the statement, noting that all the victims received their drinking water from the same water main.

You are ahead by a (half) century: Belarus to Russia on food safety

Allegations of the poor quality of Belarusian foodstuffs are groundless, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting to discuss the measures to remove the ban on the import of Belarusian products to Russia and the transit of embargoed food, BelTA has learned.

ahead.by.a.century“If we ask Belarusians or Russians which products are safer – Belarusian or Russian ones – the question will make them laugh. With all due respect to Russia, they are 50 years behind Belarus in terms of food safety,” the Belarusian leader said.

“Why whip up tensions, create problems in this situation?” the head of state wondered. In his words, at the start of 2014, before Russia’s embargo, Belarus and the Russian Federation had agreed on the amount of the Belarusian food supplies. “As for today, with the year 2014 coming to a close, we have not yet supplied the agreed amount of food in full. 

Moscow court fines Burger King restaurant for food safety violations

The Moscow Arbitration Court at the request of Russia’s public health agency Rospotrebnadzor has fined Burger Rus LLC, operator and manager of Burger King restaurants in Russia, 100,000 rubles ($2,583) for the storage of unauthorized items in refrigerators alongside food, a source in the court told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

193034122The court ruling states that on July 11 during an inspection of a Burger King restaurant, the health watchdog found violations of technical regulations of the Customs Union “On the safety of food products.”

Brushes from a milkshake machine as well as a slicer used to cut onions and tomatoes were stored beside food products. Inspectors also “found flies in the production and storage facilities,” according to the court investigation.

Rospotrebnadzor claims that the violations pose a health hazard to customers.

The court’s final decision was prepared on September 15, but has not yet come into force. The decision may be appealed within 10 days.

Burger King, founded in the United States in 1954, is currently the second largest hamburger chain in the world. The brand has been operating under franchise in Russia since 2010, when the first restaurant opened in Moscow. Currently Burger King operates about 200 restaurants in the country.

Food terrorism poses eminent danger to US

Food terrorism poses an eminent danger to the United States, according to antiterrorism specialists. While the need for higher quantities of food is only increasing, the standards for food safety have been at a standstill or worse—nonexistent.

The Voice of Russia got to interview three antiterrorism food experts on the rising threats in American society. Not only did they mention the dairy sector of being in danger, but the US’ produce is also in a compromising position.

south.park.terrorist“Many foods can be potential contaminants, especially fresh produce,” Dr. Douglas Powell, a former professor of food safety and publisher of barfblog.com confessed to the Voice of Russia.

A terrorist attack geared toward the food industry is a very real threat to the US and devastating effects would be felt if the dairy section were tainted with an illicit chemical, as babies, children, teens, adults, and seniors all consume milk products on a day-to-day basis. “The entire food industry is vulnerable to the terrorist threat in equal measure to the dairy sector, ” Antiterrorism Consulting, an engineer company specializing in consultancy and assessment of terrorists threats for specific industries, told the Voice of Russia in its opinion.

“It is incumbent on the manufacturers to have validated processes in place; government is just there as an occasional check,” Dr. Powell stressed. Making the world an even more connected entity has more likely than not worsened the situation when it comes to food safety. Regulatory agencies exist however they are not omnipresent organizations, leaving crucial gaps within the system. Pitfalls of this magnitude just make it far easier for terrorists to taint the food supply.