Lviv Customs releases soy lecithin shipment
Subject of complaint: Lviv Oblast Office of the Security Bureau of Ukraine (Lviv SBU), Lviv Customs of the SFS (Lviv Customs)
Complaint in brief: On November 3, 2017, a distributor of food ingredients addressed the BOC with a complaint concerning the SBU.
The company has been importing food additives for more than 5 years and supplying them to leading Ukrainian confection makers. In September, however, the Complainant says that Lviv Customs began putting pressure on the company—under orders from the SBU.
Lviv Customs detained two lots of soy lecithin to check the content for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Subsequent test results from UkrMeterTestStandart, the state food testing agency, confirmed the absence of GMOs, but Lviv SBU officials sent samples for further testing to an unaccredited laboratory in Odesa without any explanation. That lab claimed that the product contained more than 0.01% of GMO content. According to Ukrainian law, a product is considered genetically modified if the content includes more than 0.9% of GMOs.
Nevertheless, the Complainant’s shipment remained blocked at the customs for two more weeks, which cost the company in many ways: temporary storage, renting transport, and loading and unloading at Customs. Most importantly, the delivery deadline for the goods was missed. This created problems for the Complainant’s contractors, the makers of finished confections. In some cases they were forced to stop production.
Actions taken: The BOC investigator thoroughly studied the positions of the Complainant and the state agencies involved. She sent a letter to the SBU and SFS asking to explain why the goods had been re-tested in the first place. The investigator contacted the Deputy Director of Lviv Customs, who announced that a third test would be undertaken to make a final determination of the content of the product.
Result achieved: The results of the third check showed that GMOs were absent in the imported soy lecithin. On December 6, the Complainant informed the Council that all the company’s goods had cleared customs. The case was closed successfully.