EU food safety standards could bring boom or bust to Ukraine

Ukraine’s huge agriculture sector has long been constrained by outdated food safety regulations and practices that have limited the country’s export and investment potential.

ukraine_agricultureBut that should change soon, according to Volodymyr Lapa, the head of the new food safety and consumer protection state regulatory body.

Lapa told the Kyiv Post that new laws that came into force in January have finally brought Ukraine’s food safety and consumer rights legislation into line with that of the European Union.

The new legislation aims to improve standards of hygiene and food safety, as well as government supervisory procedures. Under the law, and to comply with the minimum requirements for exporting to the EU, all Ukrainian producers and retailers must conform to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points standards.

But according to the International Finance Corporation, which advises businesses and the government on how to achieve HACCP standards, only several hundred out of thousands of Ukrainian companies currently comply with them. In 2010, the corporation calculated that 200 out of 20,000 or so manufactures had implemented HACCP standards, though figure does not include retailers.

Under the new laws, the Food Safety and Consumer Protection Agency that Lapa heads will replace the assortment of inspectorates that now exist. A total of 30,500 people are currently employed to regulate various aspects of food and consumer safety, while in future the number will be reduced to 10,000 people.