News - January 30, 2014

Rikilt inspections after Russian complaints about Dutch cheese

Albert Sikkema

Since 1 January, Rikilt has been inspecting the cheese for export to Russia. The institute tests whether the dairy produce meets the stringent Russian rules on anti­biotics.

In December, the Russian inspection service Rosselkhoznad­zor imposed restrictions on Dutch dairy exporters after it claimed it had found deficiencies in the safe­guards for food safety. The Russians argued that a Dutch government body should be in charge of inspecting dairy products.

Therefore state secretary Dijksma decided to transfer the responsibility for the inspection of dairy products for Russia from COKZ (a private body) to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), which then brought in Rikilt to check dairy products for antibiotics, heavy metals and melamine.

Rikilt has not now suddenly found lots of cheese with high concentrations of antibiotics because its analysis methods are not technically any different to what COKZ had been using up to then, says Rikilt’s Linda Stolker. The main point is that the Russians felt the Dutch supervision of the export of dairy products had not been organized properly. The Netherlands has addressed this issue by temporarily putting NVWA in charge of supervision. ‘There is a huge amount of trade at stake,’ says Stolker. The Netherlands exported 187 million euros worth of butter, cheese and eggs to Russia last year.