Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș clarified on Monday (21 March) that a health alert, raised by Italian authorities, was erroneously made by the European Commission, as it concerned only one dairy company, not all of Romanian cheese producers. EurActiv Romania reports.
Cioloș was asked at a news conference in Transylvania about a report sent by Italian authorities to the EU executive about the risk of E.coli infection from Romanian dairy products.
The Romanian premier confirmed that the alert had been raised, but that it had erroneously included all Romanian dairy products, rather than just cheese produced by the Brădet dairy firm. The error has since been rectified.
“It is not the entire production. I asked again on Friday (18 March) for them to clarify the situation with the European Commission vis-à-vis an alert that has been made by the Italians and realised that there was problem,” Cioloș said.
The former European Commissioner for Agriculture, who was appointed the head of a technocratic government last year, urged the Commission to make it clear that a mistake had been made.
The prime minister added that his country would not accept “errors that impact the Romanian economy and agri-food sector”.
“From my point of view, things are clear, the alert initially targeted the wrong products, i.e. sheep cheese, which I understand was corrected to cow’s milk, and all Romanian products, rather than specific products that have been identified, ” said Cioloș.
The Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) issued the alert last week, after Italy reported a case of E.coli infection in Florence, caused by cheese originating from Romania. The product was identified and an alert issued in Italy, France and Germany, where it is predominantly sold.
Italian authorities later confirmed after thorough analysis that the individual had been infected by E.coli-contaminated cheese.
Following the incident, Italy’s Ministry of Health called for healthcare alerts in member states to be re-evaluated.
A severe digestive infection has struck infants and children in Romania, with two fatalities recorded so far. Bucharest hopes these are not the first days of a serious public health crisis. EurActiv Romania reports.