They point to the use of antibiotics
By Michalis Michael
Representatives of large Swedish supermarkets trading in haloumi have recently visited Cyprus, following concerns expressed across the country about the extensive antibiotic use in livestock in the area. The supermarket representatives met with local producers, visited farms and were assured about the quality criteria that are met in the traditional Cypriot cheese’s production. At the same time, the Minister of Agriculture Kostas Kadis, speaking to CAN, reassured that haloumi does not contain any harmful residues for humans, while referring to wrong parameters traced in the formula for calculating the use of antibiotics by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which place Cyprus alongside other countries high in the scale of antibiotic use.
A few days ago, non-governmental organization WWF (World Wildlife Fund), issued a statement in Sweden saying that haloumi may be worse than meat in terms of sustainability, as it is imported from Cyprus, a country that they say is at the top of the list in the use of antibiotics in livestock. Today the English newspaper “Cyprus Mail” also addresses the statements made on the subject by a food specialist in Sweden. In Sweden there is an increased interest in vegetarian food, and haloumi sales have surged significantly due to the cheese’s qualities, since it can be used as an alternative to meat at a barbecue.
WWF believes that it might not be possible for haloumi to be included in the consumer guide for “sustainable” foods to be published in the autumn. In fact, consumers are also encouraged to eat haloumi in smaller amounts and prefer a cheese organically or locally produced with particular specifications. WWF, although widely known worldwide for its work, has often been accused by various parties of being non-objective because of its close relationships to businesses, since it offers opportunities for businesses to be promoted by using its brand.
However, both cheesemakers in Cyprus and the authorities in charge alongside the Ministry of Agriculture in Cyprus note that, based on continuous quality checks and investigations, no antibiotic residues have ever been found in haloumi.
Kadis: There is actually no relation between antibiotics and haloumi
The Minister of Agriculture has told CNA that halloumi contains neither any residues of antibiotic substances, nor harmful germs or anything that makes it unsafe for human consumption.
As for EMA’s report showing high concentrations of such substances in milk and meat in Cyprus, the Minister says the Agency leaves out important parameters that would place Cyprus much lower in the ranking.
Among these, the fact that antibiotics are purchased from the free regions and are channeled into the occupied areas, without taking into account cattle animals from the occupied areas, resulting in concentration in animals in the free regions to be shown higher than it actually is. He also mentioned that the population of goats, that are hundreds of thousands in Cyprus, is not being calculated in the formula. In these animals the use of antibiotics is much lower and therefore, if calculated, the percentage would be reduced for Cyprus. The Minister also noted that the Agency’s report clearly shows that Cyprus is in the back of the line regarding the consumption of critical antibiotics that are of the highest importance to the health and safety of people. At this point, Cyprus is found third from last, with just a small presence and concentration of such substances.
At the same time, the Minister stated that 70% of the antibiotic use in Cyprus is aimed for pig and poultry farming and not for dairy animals. Also concerning dairy animals, antibiotics, based on data, are administered to young animals that are not used in dairy production.
“So the relationship between these substances and haloumi is actually non-existent,” he said./ibna