Russia to impose virtually full ban on U.S. meat over ractopamine Feb 11 [updated]

As of Feb. 11, Russia will be instituting a virtually complete ban on meat and meat product from the United States over the use of the beta stimulant ractopamine in livestock-rearing.

Ractopamine is used to stimulate muscle growth in livestock raised for their meat.

Russia's Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Oversight Service (Rosselkhoznadzor) will have in place restrictions on the import into Russia of frozen pork and beef, ready meat products, turkey meat, and offal and pork and beef subproducts due to ractopamine use in the production. Restrictions have been in effect since Feb. 4 on the import of refrigerated meat from the United States for this reason. The ban does not apply only to chicken.

Aside from the U.S., among Russia's supplier-countries ractopamine is actively used in Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. But these countries continue to supply Russia with product as they have agreed to meet Russian requirements. These include each consignment of product shipped to Russia being accompanied by certification that it has been inspected and does not contain ractopamine. Furthermore, product must come from livestock raised without the use of the stimulant.

Despite multiple Rosselkhoznadzor requests, the United States has provided no guarantee there is no ractopamine in livestock product shipped to Russia.

In a letter to Ronald Johns, deputy food safety service administer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rosselkhoznadzor expressed regret over the situation and pointed out that the U.S. had been cautioned more than once about the possible outcome.

Rosselkhoznadzor discussed the situation last week with Russian meat market operators and oriented importers working with the United States toward the development of other foreign markets.

Meanwhile, Russia's Rospotrebnadzor Director Gennady Onishchenko says that Russia will lift the ban on the supply of meat from the United States if it stops sending meat products to Russia with the growth stimulator ractopamine.

"The supplies are possible if they ensure supplies from enterprises that do not use this stimulator," Onishchenko said.

The virtually full ban on the import of meat and meat products from the United States over ractopamine will most likely remain in force for a long time, Onishchenko said.

"The restrictions will stay in place until a solution is found. It's either they agree with us and begin supplying [meat] without this stimulator or gather evidence and go to court," he said.

"We have scientific evidence that ractopamine is unsafe," Onishchenko said.

"There is a need for more studies on the safety of this stimulator, and these studies need to be conducted by the U.S.," Onishchenko said.

"The U.S. has a split system. They don't supply meat with ractopamine to the EU, like they do to us," Onishchenko said.

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