Norway expressed concern over a partial ban on its farmed salmon to Russia, its largest market for seafood, saying its fish were tested to meet stringent European Union standards.
"We are very surprised because Norwegian salmon is constantly monitored for ... the presence of heavy metals," said Anne-Kristin Jorgensen, counselor for fisheries at the Norwegian Embassy.
Her comments came after the Agriculture Ministry said it would ban imports of salmon from four fish farms beginning this week on account of dangerous levels of lead and cadmium.
Levels of lead in the fish were 10 to 18 times higher than Russian safety standards, and cadmium almost four times higher, Interfax reported.
The country's chief food safety inspector said a blanket ban on all Norwegian fish imports could not be ruled out, Interfax reported.
Russia and Norway faced off in October when Russian fisherman clashed with Norway's coast guard over charges that they had been fishing illegally in the Barents Sea.
Jorgensen said that levels of cadmium and lead "have consistently been well below the maximum allowed levels set by the EU, which, we understand, are even stricter than Russian standards."
In the last 10 years, the levels of cadmium in farmed salmon have been a 50th of the EU maximum limit, said Jorgensen, citing the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. The levels of lead in 2004 amounted to a 100th of the EU levels of 0.2 milligrams per kilogram, she said.
This year, there has been one case of excessive levels in Norwegian fish, an adviser to Norway's agriculture ministry said, Reuters reported Friday.