All meat and livestock products imported from Florida have been banned by the Russian veterinary service, which claims that the items carry with them the threat of anthrax poisoning.

The ban order, which is believed to be "temporary until further notice", was signed by veterinary service chief Mikhail Kravchuk on 12 October. Market participants and information agencies were not informed about the ban until yesterday [Tuesday] morning, however, prompting much frustration. Albert Davleyev, director of the Russian representative office of the US Poultry & Egg Export Council, told the Moscow Times: "We are waiting now for an official announcement, which should have been done right away."

Davleyev added that the ban "could result in a significant increase in meat prices in Russia, especially on poultry". Vladimir Fisinin, CEO of the Russian Poultry Union, reported earlier this year that more than 90% of the poultry meat imported into Russia originates in the US, and 40% of that is shipped from Florida.

According to the Russian Meat Union meanwhile, about 50% of all meat imports also come from the US. Union president Musheg Mamikonyan commented: "If the ban is for long, it will seriously affect the Russian meat market."

A man in Florida died from anthrax infection last week, but since the terror attacks of 11 September the US has been hit by scores of anthrax scares. Russia has asked the US Embassy to provide information about all other cases of anthrax infection throughout all 50 US states in the past month.