Opposition MP asks Ratas about rural minister's listeria claims

MP Urmas Kruuse (Reform).
MP Urmas Kruuse (Reform). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Opposition MP Urmas Kruuse (Reform) has asked Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) to clarify the details of when Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik (EKRE) became aware of the listeria bacteria traced to a fish processing plant.

As reported on ERR News, strains of listeria bacteria which directly caused the deaths of two people in Estonia, and several more Europe-wide, were traced to the plant, in Harku, near Tallinn.

Kruuse, who is also deputy chair of the Riigikogu rural affairs committee said the public also has the right to know the truth.

Whereas Järvik claims he was not aware of the issue until mid-August, as pointed out by another opposition MP, former MEP Ivari Padar (SDE), a letter (initially misaddressed) was sent from Järvik's ministry in July on the issue, to the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA), with a response coming on Aug. 7. The letter mentioned the discovery of listeria bacteria in three of 26 samples taken from the M.V.Wool plant.

Järvik says he became aware of the problem via the ministry's information system.

Moreover, Järvik attended a meeting at M.V.Wool as early as Jun. 12 when the issue of potential listeria bacteria was allegedly discussed, meaning he may have been well aware of the case up to two months earlier than he had said.

Urmas Kruuse also said that he tried to obtain information from Järvik who chose not to respond to the request, referring to a decision of the Supreme Court from 2004, according to BNS.

While the company's fish plant has been declared safe after a sterilizing process, the latest strain may be at large in Estonia as a whole.

M.V.Wool also announced that its expiry dates for cold-smoked and salted fish products from 30 days, to 24 days, and the company also halted production at the Harku plant to fully sterilize its facilities.

Experts recommend children, the elderly and pregnant women avoid raw fish products like salmon and trout, which they also recommend heating up before serving.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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