Russia’s food safety watchdog has intercepted and destroyed a large load of U.S. almonds allegedly smuggled into the country by a Kazakh citizen.
The U.S. is one of several countries that have faced countersanctions on foodstuff exports to Russia since August, 2014.
In an announcement yesterday, the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) said the seizure was made on July 17 following a tip-off border guards in conjunction with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The seizure took place near the village of Mashtakov in the district of Pervomaisky in the Orenburg region, with 880 unlabeled bags full of almonds found inside a truck.
Authorities accompanied the vehicle to a landfill in Buzuluk, where the almonds were destroyed as part of a decree aimed at deterring traders from skirting the import ban.
If the same volume of 20 metric tons (MT) were to be sold at current prices listed at Costco Wholesale in the U.S., they would have been worth US$ 543,800.
A large R.D. Offutt Co. potato storage warehouse and its contents were destroyed by fire Jan. 21 in Perham, MN, the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association reported in a Jan. 28 e-newsletter.
At a Jan. 22 news conference, Perham Fire Chief Mark Schmidt said about 130 firefighters from 20 fire departments helped battle the blaze, including all 17 departments from Otter Tail County and three more from Becker County.
A Jan. 21 fire at an R.D. Offutt potato storage warehouse. (Photo courtesy of West Central Tribune)A news release from the Offutt Co. confirmed the loss of the building along with “potatoes and miscellaneous equipment used in the load-out process.” The company is working with its insurers and local authorities to investigate the cause of the fire and determine the full extent of the damage.
It was reported Jan. 23 that chipping potatoes for the nearby Barrel O’ Fun potato chip plant were stored in the building. KLN Family Brands General Manager Kevin Keil estimated there were about 75,000 hundredweight of potatoes destined for the chip factory destroyed in the fire. Despite the loss, Keil said there would be no interruption in production as a backup supplier was quickly secured in the Red River Valley. KLN Family Brands is the parent company of Barrel O’ Fun.
“We are very thankful that no one was injured and would like to thank the emergency responders and volunteers who were involved in fighting and controlling this fire,” Keith McGovern, chief executive officer of R.D. Offutt Co., said in a statement.
According to the National Weather Service, wind chills reached 20 degrees below zero the night of the fire. The cold caused water spray and mist to freeze quickly, and it often iced up the fire trucks and froze doors shut.
Volunteers with the American Red Cross served snacks and coffee to the firefighters and emergency response workers. The Salvation Army was also on the scene, as well as a school bus, which served as a warming house for firefighters.
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