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Adrienne Warren

No Pigs, Plants and Potatoes: Russia Bans Foreign Foods

Russia is planning to introduce temporary restrictions on dairy, meat and seafood imports from Greece starting July 15, the Federal Veterinary and Phyto-sanitary Inspection Service reported. In June, food safety inspectors reportedly discovered violations of the Customs Union’s hygiene standards, saying that the Greek Veterinary Service had overlooked improper certification of animal products intended for export. The ban is the next in a recent wave of restrictions on foreign products in Russia, let’s take a look at the other culprits…

Ammoudi, Santorini (Greece). author: MarcelGermain. source: Flickr

Ammoudi, Santorini (Greece). author: MarcelGermain. source: Flickr


Russia has temporarily banned the import of seed and ware potatoes from the EU, stating that a parasite was found in shipments of potatoes from the Netherlands. An official letter to Director of the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection Eric Poodle says that the measures proposed by European Commission to ensure phyto-sanitary safety of products supplied to the Russian Federation and other countries of the Customs Union, do not meet requirements of the legislation of Russia and the Customs Union.


On Tuesday, 2nd of July, the Russian Federation placed an import ban on plant materials from the European Union which” do not conform to the country’s new stringent phyto-sanitary standards”. The exact implications remain unclear, what is known is that the new demands primarily apply to seed potatoes and potted plants which originate in regions that have yet to be inspected for harmful pests by Russia’s inspection services. Products from approved territories will be allowed to cross the border, but it is still unclear how how this separation will be determined. As Union Fleurs explains:

“It is unclear how elaborate the new strict demands are and what exact plants they apply to. We don’t know, for example, whether the restrictions only apply to plant material that comes with soil. Neither do we know what instructions the Russian customs officers have been given regarding products arriving at their borders in the coming days.”


Russia has banned swines and hogs from the Vitebsk region of Belarus, effective this week. The ban comes after the June discovery of African Swine Fever outbreak in Belarus. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, African Swine Fever is  a viral disease for which there is no vaccine, which is deadly for pigs but harmless for humans. The pig-ban is another in a string of foreign pork restrictions coming from Russia, including bans against the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The restrictions against North America were enforced because of concerns that the meat was produced using the growth stimulant ractopamine, which is used to stimulate muscle growth in animals and has been banned throughout the Customs Union.


Russia has lifted a ban on imports of Georgian tea, spices, nuts and similar products, as according to watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor:

“Such goods do not require phytosanitary certification for crossing the Russian border. However, such products are subject to phytosanitary quarantine control,”

In addition, Russia may reportedly begin exporting animal products, like meat and milk, to Georgia. The re-opening of trade between the two countries comes after the 2006 imposition of import bans on Georgia’s wine, and agricultural products. Georgia denounced the move as politically motivated, as an act of defiance against pro-Western leader Mikhail Saakashvili.  With last year’s transition of power to opposition coalition, Georgia Dream, talks began about resuming trade.

Sources: Hortidaily, Russia Beyond the Headlines, Bloomberg  Pravda

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Graduated in International Relations and Russian. Resident of Estonia, but a citizen of the world. Most interested in contributing to the progress and education of mankind--as the primary tool of achieving global unity.

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