Banned in the EU, it's welcomed here: glycidyl ethers remain in the diet of Russians
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Banned in the EU, it's welcomed here: glycidyl ethers remain in the diet of Russians

1 December 2020, 14:30Society
The scandal surrounding the ban on the sale in Europe of the Russian Alyonka cake and Anela cookies due to the content of the substances that can cause cancer in them is acquiring new details. As it turned out, Russia cannot impose a ban on glycidyl ethers due to its obligations in the Customs Union.

Irina Mishina

The norms for the content of the strongest carcinogens - glycidyl ethers in products on the territory of the countries of the Customs Union - should be regulated by a single technical regulation. It is being developed by the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), a permanent body of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. Since 2015, it has included Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Technical regulations for products in these countries are uniform. Thus, Russia found itself shackled by its obligations in the EAEC.

“In the civilized world, the use of palm oil in food was limited a few years ago. According to the conclusion of scientists from the Cancer Institute in France, about a third of cancers in Europe are caused by the use of products containing glycidyl ethers. On August 6, 2019, the Eurasian Economic Commission also made a decision to amend the technical regulations in relation to the standards for the content of glycidyl ethers in products. However, the executors of this decision, under pressure from the lobby of producers, are trying to delay its adoption by all possible means", - said Igor Bolbat, chairman of the public organization Association of Consumers of Russia in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, to Novye Izvestia.

Our editors have at their disposal an appeal to the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission M. Myasnikovich in connection with ignoring the decision to amend glycidol in the technical regulations "On food safety" on the territory of the Customs Union countries". Representatives of public organizations from six regions of Russia - Krasnoyarsk Territory, Vladimir, Astrakhan, Lipetsk, Novosibirsk regions and the Republic of Buryatia - put their signatures under this appeal.

“For everyone who is familiar with lobbying issues, sabotage in relation to rationing of glycidyl ethers... this is a story about how seriously palm oil importers take the technology of working with officials who are always aloof from business, but have already provided companies with 14 months of free import of carcinogenic palm oil”, - the appeal says.

After the ban in Europe of the Russian cake "Alyonka" and cookies "Anela", the harm from the use of glycidol ether in the food of Russians became an obvious fact. Let's remind: Alenka cake was sold in seven EU countries: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Portugal. The reason for the withdrawal of "Alyonka" from the shelves, according to the notice on the website of the Department of Consumer Rights Protection and Food Safety of Germany, was the carcinogens found in the cake: glycidyl ethers. Also, nine European countries have withdrawn from circulation Russian biscuits "Anela" due to the content of glycidyl ethers in them.

There were different opinions on this matter. For example, a member of the expert council at the agro-industrial committee of the Federation Council, associate professor at the Moscow University of Technology and Management. Razumovsky Svetlana Dmitriyeva named the ban on the sale of "Alyonka" in Europe by the "trade war". “This has not happened since the 90s”, - said the expert. “99 percent that this is a trade war, and if they check their own products, there will be the same or more”, - Dmitriyeva is sure.

However, similar incidents with Russian products occur not only in Europe, but also in some EAEC countries. So, in Kazakhstan, Russian products were withdrawn from sale due to inconsistency with the established and declared standards. According to the results of the inspection of fat and oil and confectionery products, in the mayonnaise "Olive" Maheyev", a discrepancy was found in the actual fat content declared on the package. The discrepancy between the actual mass fraction of fat, moisture, energy value was revealed in the sample of butter "Krestyanskoe". This is stated in a message on the website of the Committee for the Protection of Consumer Rights of the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan.

What is the real situation with the use of glycidyl ethers in Europe and Russia?

The world consumes palm oil in huge quantities and for various purposes. This oil can be suitable for the production of soap and biodiesel as well as food. But there is an important rule: for palm oil to acquire nutritional properties, the rules for its industrial processing, storage and transportation must be strictly observed. In this regard, the question arises: to what extent are these rules observed in relation to palm oil, which Russia imports for food purposes?

“Glycidyl ethers have long been known in Russia. We add palm oil to a variety of products - sausages, margarine, sour cream and cheese products, yoghurts, confectionery, baked goods. Manufacturers everywhere use cheap vegetable fat. There are technologies that allow palm oil to be purified from glycidyl ethers. There are no such industries in Russia. We buy technical palm oil from Indonesia. Its use in the food industry is prohibited. But it is still used, since vegetable fats are cheap", - said Igor Bolbat, chairman of the public organization Association of Consumers of Russia in the Krasnoyarsk Territory.

European experts have long been concerned with the problem of limiting the use of glycidyl ethers in the food industry. Toxicological studies have been conducted by the World Health Organization, the European Food Safety Agency EFSA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, according to the results of which glycidyl ethers were named as one of the most acute factors threatening human health. Toxicological studies have shown shocking results. It has been found that glycidyl esters are the main cause of the most common and aggressive forms of cancer. Children were especially susceptible to the development of these forms of cancer. In addition, glycidyl ethers can cause infertility in men. The most dire consequences of the consumption of foods with glycidyl ethers are DNA mutations in the human body.

Рост онкологических заболеваний в России находится в прямой зависимости от импорта пальмового масла.

After the publication of the results of these studies, Europe at the legislative level urgently set the maximum permissible level of glycidyl ethers in palm oil, baby food and other food products. In this regard, a special European Union directive EU 1881/2006 (Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006) was adopted.

European manufacturers have changed their approach to food production. Today they use palm oil that meets the stringent requirements of European food safety legislation. For food purposes, Europe imports crude palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia and processes it industrially at its own production facilities.

More than 90% of palm oil is imported to Russia from Indonesia, where the content of glycidyl ethers is not regulated, therefore, almost all Indonesian palm oil is carcinogenic. This is exacerbated by the fact that, unlike in Europe, in Russia and in the European-Asian Economic Community there is not a single enterprise that manufactures industrial processing of crude palm oil for use for food purposes. Technologies for purifying palm oil from glycidyl ethers do not exist in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. As a result, more than 900,000 tons of Indonesian carcinogenic palm oil, which causes cancer and infertility, is annually supplied to the Russian food market. Official statistics show a direct dependence of the growth of cancer in adults and children on the increase in the import of palm oil and its use.

All this practically nullifies the cancer control program and the national project "Demography" developed by the decree of President Putin. In the conditions of free circulation of millions of tons of carcinogenic palm oil on the food market, it is practically impossible to implement these projects, according to experts.

In general, the picture is more than pessimistic. At the same time, in Russia at the state level, it seems, they realize the need to control the use of glycidyl ethers. So, in September 2019, Rospotrebnadzor officially announced its readiness to control the level of glycidol in food. Rospotrebnadzor, together with FGBUN "Federal Research Center of Nutrition and Biotechnology", even developed and approved guidelines for determining the content of toxic substances, including glycidol in edible vegetable oils and animal fats. This technique has been certified, its text can be found on the official website of Rospotrebnadzor in the "Documents" section.

What prevents the introduction of this control, on which, in fact, the health of the nation depends? “Despite the lobbying of manufacturers who actively use unrefined and unprocessed palm oil, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Customs Union understand the importance of adopting technical regulations and requirements for food products. The EEC Board decided to adopt GOSTs, to introduce uniform requirements for the member states of this organization in relation to products, in particular glycidyl ethers. Russia is in favor of introducing these technical regulations. But the situation is such that good undertakings remain only in words. The reason is the persistent failure of technical regulators to comply with the decision of the EEC Board dated 06.08.2019 on amending glycidol in the technical regulation "On food safety"", - says Igor Bolbut.

A paradoxical situation arises: both politicians and economists seem to understand that it is necessary to stop the use of toxic glycidyl ethers in the food industry and even make decisions on this score. But these decisions are stalled at the level of performers. However, after the situation with the toxic Russian cake and biscuits was loudly publicized and public organizations of the largest regions of Russia spoke out against the use of glycidol in the food industry, it will be difficult to silence the problem.

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