Scandal Erupts Over Import of Lamb Meat for Easter and St. George’s Day in Bulgaria

The Food Agency rejects the accusations, the control was extremely strengthened

A scandal surrounding the import of lamb meat for Easter and St. George’s Day erupted due to the concerns of Bulgarian sheep farmers. The Association of Sheep Producers in Bulgaria is dissatisfied with the competition of cheap lamb meat from North Macedonia and threatens with protests and blockades. Farmers and traders have announced that Macedonian lamb will be sold in our country, disguised as Bulgarian.

In a similar way, Bulgarian grain producers also attacked the import of Ukrainian grain, writes “NOW“.

However, the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency claims that imports are under “extremely strengthened” control and falsifications of origin are impossible, recalling that if the meat is from an animal raised in our country, it has a blue seal, if it is from another origin is marked in red ink.

According to the sheep breeding association, so far more than 200 tons of lamb from North Macedonia have entered our country at a price below 7 euros per kilogram.

Due to an agreement between the EU and North Macedonia on duty-free trade, meat is imported here, which is 30% cheaper than domestic production, claims the co-chairman of the National Sheep and Goat Association, Simeon Karakolev.

The Republic of North Macedonia does not comply with European regulations for the use of feed, vaccines and medicines in animal husbandry, and the quality of the relevant meat is questionable, Karakolev claims. According to him, the lack of European regulations, together with the lower costs of production in North Macedonia, determine the lower price, and instead of being under scrutiny, in our country the control is underestimated.

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The meat does not enter Bulgaria directly, but through Greece as re-export, since Bulgaria does not have an EU-approved point for the import of meat from countries outside the European Union for the import of meat from third countries. According to European rules, once the goods have already entered an EU country, there is no requirement for thorough checks at the next border. “And the Greeks don’t delve into research,” claims Simeon Karakolev.

According to data from the sheep breeding association, due to cheap imports from North Macedonia last year, over 20,000 Bulgarian lambs remained unsold and now the same thing will happen.

The industry explains that there are also imports from Romania, which, however, do not bother them because the prices are close to ours.

Lamb meat in the store network varies between 20 and 29 BGN per kilogram.

Our farmers and traders explain to the media that the following scheme is applied – lambs are imported from the western neighbor, they are slaughtered in Bulgarian slaughterhouses and the meat is released into the commercial network as Bulgarian (it is marked with a blue seal, and imported meat with a red one). to avoid strict checks.

In this regard, the BABH started massive inspections of slaughterhouses and shops. Here’s what he explained before BNR Dr. Kalina Milusheva, head of the “Food Control” department at the Blagoevgrad Regional Food Safety Directorate:

In the Blagoevgrad region, there is no import of Macedonian lambs for meat, there are Greek lambs in two slaughterhouses. The meat is marked with a red stamp and in the document that leaves the slaughterhouse for the enterprise or the butcher shop, it is reflected that the animal was raised in another country, not in Bulgaria.

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