MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russian authorities have suspended sales of sprats supplied by a Latvian company due to food safety concerns, Russia’s consumer rights watchdog said Tuesday.
The suspension involves 24,000 cans of sprats produced by Kolumbija Ltd sold at two food supermarket chains in Moscow and the Moscow Region.
The inspection of the produce, which had been prompted by consumer complaints, revealed a violation of Russian food safety rules, including excessive fat and caloric content, Rospotrebnadzor said in a statement.
“Regional Rospotrebnadzor branches have been instructed to pay special attention to canned fish products made by this company,” the statement said.
Kolumbija Ltd is the second Latvian sprat producer targeted by Russian food safety inspectors in the past 24 hours.
On Monday, the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Control said it had discovered unacceptable levels of a cancer-causing benzopyrene in sprats supplied by SIA Randa Klavas. The food safety watchdog has introduced tighter quality controls over this company’s products as well.
The Latvian authorities have so far downplayed the impact of the Russian allegations and said they were not politically motivated.
However, Latvian media on Tuesday cited officials from SIA Randa Klavas as saying they were baffled by the Russian claims because the levels of benzopyrene in smoked sprats produced by the company did not exceed the limits set by the European Commission.
Russia has been frequently criticized for using purported health concerns and excessive food safety regulations to exert political pressure or to exercise economic protectionism.
Bilateral relations between Latvia and Russia have recently been strained by the Baltic nation’s decision to adopt the euro currency starting January 1.