Ukraine egg exports to the EU are under scrutiny after the Latvian food and veterinary service (LVS) found salmonella in a batch of imported products in December 2020.
Latvian officials submitted their findings to the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed and stated that Lidl Lietuva imported eggs from Ovostar Europe and distributed them in Lithuania.
Laboratory tests showed microbiological contamination of the eggs with Salmonella Coeln. In a follow-up statement, Lithuanian authorities confirmed they had ordered the destruction of some Ukrainian eggs. In 2020, 509 samples of eggs and egg products originating in Ukraine were tested in a laboratory as part of intensified border controls: 198 samples were tested for salmonella and 311 samples were tested for drug residues. Salmonella was detected in 2 samples of egg products originating in Ukraine, the Latvian food and veterinary service (LVS) said, and this is not the first time Baltic countries question the safety of Ukrainian egg products. In 2019, Latvian Minister for Agriculture Kaspars Gerhards called upon the European Commission for additional measures to reduce the risk for Salmonella in eggs imported from Ukraine after a similar incident.
All Ukrainian egg products which are exported to the European countries are, without exception, carefully checked for Salmonella and other pathogens, the Association of Ukrainian Poultry Farmers said in a statement on their website in response to the scandal. The Salmonella serotype detected by the Latvian laboratory is extremely rare and atypical for egg products. Besides, this serotype is not marked as harmful to humans and is not mandatory for control in EU countries, the Ukrainian poultry farmers claimed.
“We would like to highlight the repeated statements regarding unfair competition from Latvian egg producers, who have repeatedly disseminated inaccurate information about the quality of Ukrainian eggs in the Latvian media, questioning the system of export quality control in Ukraine,” the Ukraine poultry farmers added. Ukraine has stricter rules for controlling, preventing, and eliminating salmonellosis in poultry compared than most EU countries. Each product shipment is checked for the presence of 5 Salmonella serotypes, while in Europe, they are only checked for 2, the poultry farmers added.
Opportunities for the egg industry remain untapped
Emphasising on healthy living and nutrition among consumers brings a big opportunity for the egg sector, according to young egg industry leaders.
In January-November of 2020, Ukraine exported 102,130 tonnes of eggs, 20.8% down compared to the same period of the previous year, the Ukraine state statistical service estimated. In monetary terms, export totalled US$ 92.09 against US$ 104.3 million in the same period of 2019. Latvia was the third biggest sales market for Ukrainian eggs after the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In total, this country imported 10,610 tonnes of eggs worth US$ 9.6 million during the first 11 months of 2020, the statistical service estimated.