"The beef liver was stopped at the border and right now is at the custom's stockhouse," said Vinets Veldre, director of the State Veterinary Service. The shipment contained over 20 tons of beef liver. Currently 15.5 tons are chilled at the Border Inspection's control point #2 refrigerator and seven tons are under the supervision of the State Veterinary Service at their wholesale trade base.
A verbal ban has been placed against further beef liver imports from the German company. At press time, no official order had been issued. Through random sample testing, the level of copper found was 200 milligrams per kilogram. According to Latvian legislation set by the Cabinet of Ministers, 20 milligrams of copper per kilogram is the maximum allowance.
This is not the first time that the beef liver sent by Manfred Jansen GMBH has exceeded the allowed toxic levels, but the third shipment that has demonstrated illegal toxic levels. The prior two shipments were returned to Germany.
Janis Kinna, head of the Sanitary Border Inspection, said that a small amount of the liver had already been sold, as reported by news service LETA.
As a result, the Sanitary Border Inspection has decided to increase its control over German imported beef liver, as well as to examine closely what is currently in the customs warehouse.
EU sanitary regulations do not include restrictions on levels of copper in beef liver. The State Veterinary Service was unable to comment of whether it believed EU legislation would be stricter than current Latvian law. However, in a preliminary study of Latvia's drinking water in accordance with new legislation passed in February 1999 under the directive of the EU, approximately one-third of Latvia's mineral and table water do not meet health requirements.
The study tested over 50 samples of packaged water from Riga, Dobele, Liepaja Olaine and Jelgava districts. Anita Zvirgzde, spokeswomen for the National Environmental Health Center, said it would use these results to conduct an extensive research project on the state of Latvia's drinking water.
This year, four complaints on the quality of drinking water have been lodged, said Elina Leimane, specialist at the National Sanitary Inspection. All were concerning the water in Riga and its surrounding district and each were substantiated.