The recent food safety and suspected influence peddling scandal, which has embroiled the food company Judex and Lithuania’s Food and Veterinary Service, may result in Lithuanian food exporters losing their hard-won foothold in the American market, Lietuvos Rytas reports.
Angela Kavak, head of the company Food Depot International which supplies Lithuanian-made food to supermarket chains in the United States, warns that the scandal may affect American retailers’ confidence in Lithuanian production.
“This is disconcerting. Because this scandal is entangled in politics. So I understand fears that food export routes may be closed down again. This would be bad news for meat processors, especially those who struggled to find new export markets after Russia’s embargo,” Kavak told Lietuvos Rytas.
Jonas Milius, the head of the State Food and Veterinary Service, is suspected of having intentionally failed to take action after reports of bacteria found in the products of Judex, a company known locally for its dumplings and closely linked to the family of parliament member Petras Gražulis.
Investigators have raided the offices of the company and discovered bacteria in the samples of Judex production.
Milius has rejected accusations, resisting pressure from the country’s top leadership to resign.
Kavak says that since 2010, when Milius took over as the country’s chief food safety officer, the quality of Lithuanian food products has significantly improved.
“[Prior to 2010] Many products used to be stopped by the US Food and Drug Administration. Now, there are only one or two such cases a year, there hasn’t been any this year. Bedore, there would be 10-12 a year,” Kavak says.