HLL, 4 Other Marine Exporters Suspended From EU Market

New Delhi, September 25: | Updated: Sep 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
The government has ordered five marine food exporting companies to suspend exports to the European Union (EU). The reason is that their products contain substances banned by the Union.

Hindustan Levers Ltd (HLL) plant in Gujarat is one of the companies affected by the ban. HLLs marine products include salad shrimps, pasteurised crabs and fish protein isolates. The other four facing suspension orders include International Creative Foods, Vashi; Choice Canning Company, Kochi; Integrated Rubian, Aroor; and Victoria Marines, Chennai.

The move has come on the heels of New Delhi assurance to the European Commission that it would ensure that in the next two-three months, sea food consignments from India would carry no traces of banned substances like pesticides and antibiotics.

Following the assurance, the EC had put on hold (FE of Sept 23) an EU decision to inspect all seafood imports from India.

Confirming the commerce ministrys export inspection councils suspension order, ministry officials said the five companies would be allowed to export only when they started complying with EU standards.

The officials said the government has started a drive to educate its sea food industry on EU regulations. Exporters have been warned against use of antibiotics in aqua-culture. The use of antibiotics is allowed in the country at present.

Sources also said the government has tightened its inspection mechanism and is in the process of purchasing new testing equipment which can easily identify the substances banned by the Union.

The commerce ministry is hopeful that by the next fish-breeding season, all farmers will be aware of the EU regulations and the government will be better equipped to inspect consignments.

The EC inspects all sea food consignments originating from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan and Mayanmar. Some of this results in cancellation of exports. For the producers, the consequent losses average out to an estimated 10 per cent of total receipts.

The European Unions food and veterinary authority was expected to take a decision last week on whether to substantially increase the number of inspections for the banned substances or to inspect every consignment from India.

However, when New Delhi assured Brussels that a total ban imposed by it on the use of pesticides and pharmacologically active substances in the production and processing of seafood, on July 11, would result in complete elimination of the substances in the next two-three months, it agreed to delay action.

the ECs decision not to proceed with 100 per cent inspection is only a temporary measure.