This comes after several weeks of confusion whereby the Russian authority Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor), announced a ban of Roshen imports due to alleged violations of Russia’s consumer rights legislation.
Roshen has still not received details or even confirmation of this ban despite contacting Rospotrebnadzor several times since 11 July.
In an official statement on their website, Rospotrebnadzor said that they had detected unacceptable levels of Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) in Roshen’s milk chocolate products which indicated improper handling of raw ingredients within the production process.
Yet Roshen’s PR director Inna Petrenko told ConfectioneryNews that Russia had not visited any of their four factories in Kyiv, Vinnytsa, Kremenchuk and Mariupol during the entirety of this affair to check for these purported flaws in their system.
'Not harmful' at low levels, says Roshen
“It is not true that the chocolate contains no Benzo[a]pyrene, but it is very very minimal and not harmful at all,” said Petrenko.
BaP is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion or burning of organic, carbon-containing items. Within cocoa processing this can occur as part of the roasting method, with levels also being increased by smoke-drying practices by the growers.
The presence of BaP can be used as an indicator of potentially genotoxic and carcinogenic PAHs.
Petrenko said that there are no set norms for regulation of this compound in Ukraine and Russia since the inevitability of its occurrence as part of the chocolate production process is still under review.
Public health or tax spat?
Russia's worries about Roshen's produce comes soon after a recent tax spat between the Ukraine and Russia.
In March, the Ukraine issued an emergency import tax on automobiles, making it more expensive for Russia to export cars to the Ukraine.
With backing from the World Trade Organization, Russia levied equivalent taxes against Ukrainian-produced confectionery in a targeted retaliation.
One of the biggest confectionery companies in Russia, United Confectioners, is part-owned by the state.
Like Roshen, ConfectioneryNews has been unable to contact Rospotrebnadzor for further comment.