Russia may limit meat imports from U.S., Canada over leanness drug - Russian government sanitary watchdog

Russia may restrict meat imports from the United States and Canada because of suspicions that farmers in the two countries use the leanness promotion drug ractopamine in raising their animals, an official at a Russian government sanitary watchdog said on Tuesday.

"The current situation forces us, unfortunately, to warn that restrictions may be put on imports of refrigerated meat from the U.S. and Canada," Artyom Daushev, head of department at the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (Rosselkhoznadzor), told Interfax.

The matter was discussed at a conference at Rosselkhoznadzor on Tuesday, he said.

He mentioned the agency's rule that meat imports must be supplemented with documents certifying that ractopamine has not been used in raising the animals from which the meat was obtained.

"Whereas Canada has provided some documents on its plans to introduce a system of product monitoring, the U.S. hasn't been reacting at all, and that forces us to consider putting restrictions on imports," he said.

Moreover, American exporters have begun to voluntarily commission testing their meat for ractopamine, "while the veterinary service is pretending that nothing is happening," the official said.

Manufactured meat products from the United States and Canada may also come under the proposed restrictions, he said.

On the other hand, the European Union, where ractopamine is banned, has long had a law under which its meat exports are to be supplemented with papers certifying that it is ractopamine-free, Daushev said.

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