Russia still views imports of U.S. meat containing ractopamine as unacceptable - watchdog [updated]

The U.S. is using double standards by imposing on Russia meat containing ractopamine, a feed additive making meat lean, says Gennady Onishchenko, the Russian chief public health official and head of the consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor.

"The U.S. does not ship red meat containing ractopamine to the European Union. Europe does not accept ractopamine, and [the U.S.] complies with it, but imposes this on us. This just shows once again that the approach is selective," Onishchenko told Interfax on Tuesday.

The fact that the U.S. does not sell meat containing ractopamine to the European Union "confirms indirectly that this drug's practical use lacks scientific justification," he said.

"We confirm our position [on ractopamine] today," Onishchenko said.

Russia is the sixth largest meat market for the United States, he said.

"Negotiations addressed the recent adoption of the maximum residue levels (MRL) for ractopamine in cattle and pigs by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which a lot of countries, including Russia, China, India, and also the European Union, objected to. Russia and the EU proceed from strict positions and are continuing to insist on preserving more rigorous standards banning the use of ractopamine because of the absence of reliable data on this growth hormone's safety for human health," Rospotrebnadzor said on its website.

"U.S. farms use a system splitting the production and supplies of meat products containing ractopamine and those in which this drug is absent. With the use of this mechanism, the U.S. is continuing to supply meat products free of ractopamine to EU markets. Moreover, the U.S. has not demanded that restrictions on products containing this growth hormone be lifted," it said.

The U.S. called on Russia to revise its refusal to import meat containing ractopamine on Dec. 11.

"The United States will continue to reach out to Russia to resolve our differences, welcoming the chance to have further technical discussions on the safety of ractopamine," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on Dec. 11.

The Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor earlier notified the U.S., Canadian, Brazilian and Mexican veterinary services that meat shipped to Russia has to have certificates confirming the absence of ractopamine in it.

According to the U.S. media, the U.S. annually exports some $500 million worth of beef and pork to Russia.

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