MPs expressed concerns on Tuesday that milk powder may be being used in halloumi production as available quantities of cow, sheep and goat milk cannot account for the almost double than anticipated production numbers.
The issue was discussed at the House agriculture committee, which raised concerns over the lack of government control over imports of milk powder. The use of powdered milk in halloumi production is forbidden.
MPs said that based on the existing quantities of fresh milk – cow, sheep and goat – halloumi production is estimated at 13,000 tons while the actual production amounts to 23,000.
Head of the committee, Andros Kafkalias said state controls on the import and use of milk powder had stopped in 2013 but that imports have increased.
He added that the agriculture ministry told the committee that 1,764 tons were imported in 2015, while Customs said that imports for the same year were 600 tons.
“We are talking about a difference of 1000 tons,” Kafkalias said. He added that officials, even though they were asked, had no information as to where milk powder is being used and were not in a position to provide information on the percentages of milk powder in various products. “The whole case is a big mess”.
MPs, he said, heard that milk powder is being used in yoghurt, ice cream and animal feed.
Kafkalias added that the committee asked government officials to take measures so that consumers will be able to read on the packaging of products whether they contain milk powder. Currently, he said, milk powder in products is labelled as protein.