US/RUSSIA: Russia threatens US meat ban over ractopamine

By Chris Mercer | 24 January 2013

Russia warns on US chilled meat ban

Russia warns on US chilled meat ban

Russia has threatened to ban imports of chilled meat from the US due to the presence of feed additive ractopamine, in the latest in a series of food safety complaints from the ex-Soviet power.

Russia is considering a temporary ban on imports of chilled meat from the US from 4 February, the head of the country's veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, warned late yesterday (23 January).

Tests have found feed additive ractopamine in chilled pork and beef from the US, breaching Russia's food regulations, the agency said.

Russia's timing is likely to fuel further speculation of political manoeuvring, and may be viewed by some as a reaction to western powers' stronger public stance against human rights violations within Russia.

Earlier this week, Rosselkhoznadzor said it would ban imports of German chilled meat, also from 4 February, because Germany's veterinary controls are too lax. It has also threatened to ban poultry imports from the entire European Union, after finding "low pathogenic avian influenza type A" in some regions of Germany. 

By raising concerns around ractopamine, Rosselkhoznadzor is tapping into a live debate in the US.

In December, US non-profit group Center for Food Safety called on the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to review the additive, which is used to accelerate weight gain and promote feed efficiency and leanness in animals raised for meat.

Current evidence suggests ractopamine residues may be harmful to human health over the longer-term, as well as detrimental to animal wellbeing, the group argued.
Ractopamine is banned across the meat supply chain in the European Union.

Meanwhile, Canada has told Russia it will guarantee to remove ractopamine from chilled meat exports to the country by 28 February.

Show the press release

Today Sergey Dankvert, Head of the Rosselkhoznadzor has sent letters to Dr Ronald Jones, the US Food Safety and Inspection Services assistant administrator and Dr. Ian Alexander, Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada. In those letters among other things Mr. Dankvert expresses his regret that notwithstanding numerous Rosselkhoznadzor’s requests the information about the measures taken by the US and Canadian parties to prevent deliveries to Russia of products non-compliant with the ractopamine requirements of the Customs Union and Russia has not been submitted to the Rosselkhoznadzor until now. Moreover if the Canadian party agreed to ensure the absence of ractopamine residues in animal products exported from Canada to Russia from February 28, 2013 then the US party has not yet provided any such guarantees. Meanwhile such products are still being delivered from both countries and that is not compliant with the requirements of Russia/Customs Union. The Rosselkhoznadzor is especially concerned about the import of chilled meat products to Russia. The situation is deteriorated by the fact that chilled pork and beef come on the market before the laboratory test results for ractopamine presence are obtained.

Lack of proper regulation in these issues can result in imposition of temporary restrictions on import of abovementioned products to Russia from February 4, current year.

In this regard the Rosselkhoznadzor has requested again to be provided with the guarantees that chilled pork and beef dispatched from Canada and the USA to Russia do not contain ractopamine. Besides the Rosselkhoznadzor also requested to be provided with the guarantees that for the production of finished meat products destined for the Russian market only raw materials produced at the US and Canadian establishments authorized to export to Russia and the Customs Union and not containing ractopamine are used.

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Sectors: Food safety, Meat & poultry

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