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Albanian minsters say Kosovo is making use of consumer worries about levels of aflatoxin in milk to damage the commercial interest of Albanian dairies.
Albania has accused Kosovo of unfair trade practices after authorities in Kosovo ordered the removal from the market of milk produced by two Albanian dairies, Primalat and Fast.
“The alfatoxin issue has not arisen as a consumer protection problem, but as an unfair trade war among countries of the region,” Albania’s Minister of Agriculture, Genc Ruli, said.
“We have a political and professional obligation to protect not only our dairies from such blows but also more than 20,000 farmers,’ he added.
Aflatoxins are produced by mould and can damage human and animal health if they enter the food chain in significant concentrations. In the European Union the legally permitted limit in milk is 0.005 per cent.
After food safety authorities in Kosovo ordered the removal from shelves of the Albanian milk, the National Food Authority, AKU, in Tirana said it was forced to take action.
The AKU said that tests carried out in Italy showed its milk was safe to drink.
“The analysis has shown that the level of aflatoxin is two three times higher than the recommended level in the EU,” the AKU said on Monday.
“However these levels are still seven or eight times lower than those allowed in the US and Canada,” it added.
The Albanian Foreign Minister, Edmond Panariti, meanwhile criticised Kosovo’s food safety authorities for blocking milk from Albanian dairies.
“Next week I plan to sign an economic cooperation protocol with the Republic of Kosovo,” he said.
“The goal is to create a common market for the free flow of products and not impose artificial barriers, like in the milk case, which was motivated by commercial interests,” Panariti concluded.
To keep its reform policy credible for investors, the government must find common ground with the IMF and look for a new arrangement, experts say.