Russian official says ban on Belgian, Dutch vegetables to end
A Russian ban on European Union vegetables could be partially lifted Tuesday, with E coli-free certified imports from Belgium and the Netherlands allowed back, a senior government official said, DPA reported.
"We have taken the decision to allow in the deliveries of vegetables from the Netherlands under a special procedure," said Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's top food safety official.
Russia imposed a blanket ban on EU vegetables on June 2 in the wake of a deadly E coli outbreak in Germany.
Vegetables from the Netherlands and Belgium will now be allowed to enter Russia as soon as border officers received instructions from Moscow, the Interfax news agency quoted Onischenko as saying.
The ban would remain in effect for produce from all other EU countries.
Belgium and the Netherlands are being exempted from the ban because they have agreed to provide laboratory certifications that each shipment is free of E coli, Onishchenko said.
Other factors affecting Russia's decision, he said, were the absence of reports of E coli in either country and the "reliability" of the laboratories used by the Dutch and Belgian governments.
Poland, Spain, Denmark, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have applied to allow their vegetables into Russia on a similar basis, and the Russian government is studying their applications, Onishchenko said.
Russia and the EU have been at odds for almost a month over the extent of Europe's E coli outbreak and its potential threat to Russian consumers.
EU officials have said the outbreak, which has reportedly claimed 47 lives, is under control. They say EU vegetables are safe for consumption and require no special safety certifications.
Russian officials have said the source of the E coli outbreak remains unknown.