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Russia set to ban US turkey meat

By Vladislav Vorotnikov , 08-Feb-2013
Last updated on 08-Feb-2013 at 16:16 GMT

Russia to ban US turkey over ractopamine fears
Russia to ban US turkey over ractopamine fears

Russia is preparing to ban the import of turkey meat from the US over ractopamine fears, and could also ban broiler meat imports, the veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has revealed.

The head of Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert said: “We will soon send a letter to our American colleagues, informing them on our decision to introduce temporary restrictions on turkey imports, because ractopamine is being used in for growing birds.”

According to Dankvert, the restrictions could be introduced as early as 11 February 2012, but he added that the ban was still under discussion. He said the decision had been taken because Russian veterinary specialists found that a type of ractopamine called Topmaks was being used to grow turkeys in the US in late 2008.

“And they [US veterinary services] were hardly trying to hide this information from us. Unfortunately, we have to express concerns that unscrupulous manufacturers may also use ractopamine in growing broilers, if it is allowed to be used in turkeys,” said Dankvert. “We currently have no assurance that the current US system of control provides full safety [of poultry products].”

Rosselkhoznadzor will also start to monitor all broiler shipments from the US for the presence of ractopamine as of next week. Press secretary for Rosselkhoznadzor Alexey Alekseenko explained that the new restrictions would not have a significant impact on the Russian market. He said it would not result in any deficit or price rises.

Evrodon, the largest producer of turkey meat in Russia, has also commented on the decision. Vadim Vaneev, general director of Evrodon, said: “We also want to see Russian and American children – as well as the children of the whole world – grow up healthy. Unfortunately, in the market from time to time, products appear that cast a shadow on all the others. These facts elevate the fears and demands of consumers and the general public regarding the composition, production technologies, storage conditions and other quality parameters of the product.”

However, US turkey producers have denied using ractopamine for birds destined for export to Russia. A joint statement from the National Turkey Federation (USA) and the US Poultry and Egg Export Council said that US turkey farms approved for export to Russia do not use ractopamine, despite the Codex Alimentarius Commission finding that ractopamine was safe.

It added: “All turkey meat and chicken broilers supplied from plants approved for export to the Russian Federation fully comply with Russia’s official veterinary and sanitary requirements.”