Russia may impose temporary restrictions on meat imports from the European Union (EU) because of the horsemeat scandal, the country's chief medical officer has claimed.
Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russian health and consumer rights organisation Rospotrebnadzor, said he had sent a letter to the European Commission for additional assurance that these products would not hit the Russian market. He added that if such guarantees were not provided rapidly, Russian authorities would prohibit the import of all meat products from the EU, not only beef and beef products, but also pork and poultry.
Onishchenko also urged Russian consumers to abandon the purchase of meat imported from the EU until the scandal is resolved. He added that Russia is ready, if necessary, to defend its point of view in court.
At the same time, representatives of Russian trade associations demanded that Rospotrebnadzor inspect any meat imported from the EU to Russia, whether or not it decides to impose restrictions.
According to official statistics, Europe currently accounts for 40% of pork imports to Russia. Russia also imports around 90% of all processed products and 90% of the bacon used for the production of processed products from Europe. Experts predict that if this ban is implemented, it would therefore result in an unprecedented deficit of meat and processed meat products in the Russian market.