Russia will ban imports of chilled meat from Germany next month, after complaining that the country's food safety controls are too lax.

Russia's veterinary and pytosanitary service, Rosselkhoznadzor, confirmed today (22 January) that it will impose a "temporary" ban on chilled beef, pork and poultry meat from Germany from 4 February. It gave no end date.

The move is almost certain to spark accusations of politicking in a context of strained Russain-German relations.

Rosselkhoznadzor's ban was also accompanied by a separate warning that, due to an outbreak of "low pathogenic avian influenza type A" in some regions of Germany, imports of poultry meat and live chicks from the entire European Union will need to carry special certification to state that they are free of the disease.

In addition, Rosselkhoznadzor said that it has sidelined a pork shipment imported to Russia from the EU due to an "invalid veterinary certificate".

However, the agency has a particular problem with Germany, claiming that a decentralised veterinary service constitutes an unacceptable food safety risk.

In a meeting between Russian and German officials in Berlin last week, Rosselkhoznadzor said that disagreements between the two nations on food safety stem from the "absence of a unified national system, due to the functional subdivision of the German Veterinary Service".

Broadening the dispute to include much of the EU, Rosselkhoznadzor added that member states regularly "infringe" an agreement signed between Russia and the European Commission in 2004. Standards and checks between member states vary too much, it said.