Iran's health ministry has issued a license for human consumption of contaminated wheat from Russia, despite tests that showed high levels of lead.
Head of Iran’s Food Industries Associations Mohammad Reza Mortazavi said on Sunday that the health ministry has determined that the amount of lead in the wheat is “standard and natural”.
He noted a health ministry letter that was sent last week had warned the wheats were contaminated with a hazardous amount of lead but now the ministry has approved the necessary licenses for human consumption based on results of new tests.
Mojgan Pourmoghim, the head of the Food and Drug Administration's quality control laboratory, had earlier confirmed the contamination, saying, "The clearance permit for the wheat shipments is temporary and it is issued only because the country's wheat silos are empty”.
These contaminated wheats have not yet entered the consumption cycle, she added.
Gholamhossein Shafei, the chairman of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, had warned of the shortage of wheat in March last year due to the severe drought that hit domestic production.
According to an October report by Reuters, Iran needed to buy a record 8 million tons of wheat in the current season to be able to provide its population with bread that is an important food staple in the country.