Halloumi from Cyprus contains high levels of antibiotics and "could be worse than eating meat," a Swedish food expert has warned.
Consumers should be aware that Cyprus feeds the most amount of antibiotics to farm animals, Anna Richert, food expert at the World Wildlife Fund, said while speaking on Swedish national public TV station Sveriges Television (SVT) earlier this week.
“I think that consumers deserve to know more about this, and be careful when choosing Cypriot products,” she stressed.
Cyprus agriculture minister calls comments 'defamation'
However, Cypriot Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis hit back calling the claims "defamation" and saying the supposed high levels of antibiotics in the cheese from his country were based on reports from 2009.
"Cyprus is ranked together with other countries high in antibiotic use in farm animals due to wrong parameters used in a formula by the European Medicines Agency," he said.
These "defamation" attempts were motivated by the increasing popularity of halloumi in Sweden, Kadis added.
"One can only associate this defamation with the very demand for halloumi that is of Cypriot origin," he said.
"These press releases ultimately encourage consumers to prefer locally produced cheeses."
President of the Pancyprian Cheese Producers Association, George Petrou, also told CNA that it was a campaign aimed at hurting the reputation of Cypriot halloumi.
Petrou said that many companies in countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Britain were trying to start their own halloumi production.
"Some people seeing the great rise of halloumi requests and sales, seem to want to incriminate halloumi to sell their own cheeses," he said.