CAIRO: The General Authority for Imports and Exports Control seized a shipment of Russian wheat at the Safaga Port after test results found the wheat to be unfit for human consumption.
The agricultural quarantine and the Weed Research Institute at the Ministry of Agriculture tested the shipment and reported that it contains a high level of weeds and insects, rendering it contrary to food health standards.
The shipment contains approximately 63,000 tons of wheat and cost around LE 60 million.
The General Authority for Imports and Exports Control seized the shipment before it was distributed to bakeries around the country pending a final decision by the General Directorate for the Investigation of Supply.
Sources inside the Ministry of Agriculture refused to comment on the issue, saying it is currently in the “hands of the General Directorate for the Investigation of Supply.
Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, said in December it was looking to increase Russian wheat imports and to attract Russian investment to help build silos, according to Reuters.
The dispute did not hurt Russian wheat supplies, the agency reported earlier last week.
This is the first wheat shipment to arrive at the Safaga Port after Prosecutor General, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, had ordered the seizure of all wheat imported from Russia last May because it was not fit for human consumption.
Independent and opposition MPs are hailing the authorities’ efforts in fighting the distribution of low quality wheat that is detrimental to the health of the citizens.
“Finally action is being taken to ensure the quality of what the people are eating, said MP Gamal Zahran, the official spokesperson of the independent bloc at the PA.
“The wheat imported from Russia and the Ukraine has been scientifically proven that it is cancerous and not fit for human consumption, he added.
Muslim Brotherhood MP Azab Mostafa Morsi supports the authorities’ efforts, and said he hopes they “follow through with it.
“This is the first shipment to arrive and it was expected that all eyes would be on it . it’s good that it was seized and action was taken, we just hope that this applies to all other shipments coming in the future, he explained.
Egypt has suspended grain contracts with Egyptian Traders Co. in June after the prosecutor ordered the return of the 52,500-ton Russian wheat cargo and told Egyptian Traders to repay $9.6 million to Egypt’s main state grains buyer General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC).
SGS, a leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, said in June that a falsified SGS quality certificate had been used on a Russian wheat shipment imported by Egyptian Traders.
At the time, the head of the Russian Grain Union, Arkady Zlochevsky, accused Egypt of having the “sole objective to force us to sell at lower prices, according to Reuters.
“All grains we ship to Egypt fully correspond to conditions, including grade and quality, specified in export contracts, Zlochevsky said. “The problem is not the quality, but an attempt to play with prices.
The issue was triggered when MP Mostafa Bakry requested an urgent investigation at the PA into a shipment of Russian wheat that entered Egypt despite the objection of the agriculture committee at the port, which said that the shipment failed to meet health requirements.