Dairy group criticises deadline extension

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dairy processors, European union, Eu

A leading Bulgarian dairy association has attacked plans to extend
the deadline for food processors in the country to comply with EU
production standards, news reports have said.

As a number of newly appointed EU member states like Bulgaria and Romania look to benefit from improved trade relations in the bloc, they are being put under pressure to ensure that their food and beverage products, particularly for dairy and meat produce are coming up to standard. If the government therefore consents to pressure to withdraw the deadlines for processors, a number of meat and dairy processors in the country could find themselves barred from trading both in the bloc and to their own domestic markets. Dimitar Zorov, chairman of the Association of Dairy Processors in Bulgaria, said that extending the deadline would serve only to hold back legitimate meat and dairy processing in the country. "No transition period was negotiated during Bulgaria's accession talks with the EU", he was quoted as saying by the Dnevnik news agency. "If such an extension is granted at this point, it would put at a competitive disadvantage the companies that have invested heavily to meet the relevant quality standards versus the under-the-radar businesses that made no effort to upgrade in the past two years." Supporters of the deadline extension, which had been filed with the EU by farming minister Nihat Kabil in July, say that system will not keep processors that are in breach of EU requirements in business, but instead ensure they have time to come in line with the standards. The restrictions on Bulgaria's dairy and meat processors came into place in December, intended to ensure that the EU's food supply remains safe as some of the processors in the country have not completely complied with all of the bloc's safety rules. In Bulgaria's case, EU inspections of non-compliant dairy and meat plants found that certain processors were still in violation of the bloc's food safety standards. Processors currently authorized to export to the EU will be allowed to continue selling goods in the bloc. Those that are currently banned from doing so will only be able to trade within Bulgaria.

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