Russia has officially announced the removal of some restrictions on beef and turkey imports from the US, introduced earlier this year over the ractopamine dispute.
The turkey import ban will be cancelled at the end of November, while US companies will regain the right to supply beef to the Russian market at the beginning of next year.
“Russia is ready to lift the ban on US turkey meat from the end of November following recent inspections in a number of processing plants in that country, which found no violations of the Custom Union’s veterinary rules,” said Sergei Dankvert, head of Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor.
Previously Rosselkhoznadzor had said that during telephone conversations between Sergei Dankvert and the administrator for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Alfred Almansi, the US had proposed the inspection of three of its turkey meat production plants.
“As a result of this inspection, experts from Rosselkhoznadzor were able to recommend the resumption of supplies from two of the companies, under guarantees from the US, and provided that additional information requested indicates these companies are able to fully meet Russian legislative requirements for the safety of food products manufactured by them,” said Dankvert.
“Obtaining the necessary documents from the US is a matter of days away. So, by the end of November, we expect to resume imports of US turkey meat,” added Alexei Alekseyenko, press secretary of Rosseklhoznadzor.
At the same time, in 2014, Russia plans to allow the US to import up to 60,000t of beef within its quota, according to a recent government decree on import policy regulation.
Rosselkhoznadzor has not yet commented on the possibility of lifting the ban, which was also introduced earlier this year due to the ractopamine issue, but if the Russian government approves imports, the veterinary department will be required to lift restrictions.
“It will be a chance for the US to resume its supply of beef to Russia in a simplified manner. However, if ractopamine is again discovered in the production of US beef, Rosselkhoznadzor will reintroduce the ban and the story of this year will be repeated, when, despite a quota of 60,000t, the US was only able to supply the Russian market with 1,000t of beef,” said a Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson.
As regards US pork imports, the Russian authorities said the cancellation of the ban is unlikely to happen soon. “We have a shortage of beef in the market, so we can be a little more flexible with it. However, the situation is different for pork – and the US will be able to restore supply only if it proves it is ready to supply products without ractopamine,” the spokesperson added.