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Russia Bans Pork and Beef Imports From U.S. on Food Additive

Russia banned imports of U.S. pork and beef starting Feb. 11, saying the meats may contain a feed additive known as ractopamine.

The decision was made after the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service was unable to guarantee that shipments would be free of the additive, Rosselkhoznadzor, as Russia’s food-safety agency is known, said today in an e-mailed statement. Ractopamine is used to develop lean muscle in livestock, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Rosselkhoznadzor this month told veterinary services in countries whose meat industries use ractopamine, including the U.S., Brazil and Canada, that imports into Russia might be barred if they failed to comply with the requirement. The U.S. remained the only country unable to guarantee pork and beef shipped to Russia would be free of the additive, Rosselkhoznadzor said.

U.S. shipments to Russia of chilled and frozen pork in 2011 were 59,680 metric tons, or almost 9 percent of total national imports of the meat, Federal Customs Service spokeswoman Victoria Abramova said today, citing the most recent annual data. The U.S. exported about 39,000 tons of chilled and frozen beef to Russia that year, or 6.5 percent of total imports, according to the service’s data.

The U.S. continues to call on Russia to suspend “these unjustified measures and restore market access” for meat products, Andrea Mead, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, said in an e-mailed statement.

‘International Standards’

“These actions threaten to undermine our bilateral trade relationship,” Mead said. “They are not consistent with international standards and appear to be inconsistent with Russia’s” commitments with the World Trade Organization, she said.

Russia was the sixth-biggest buyer of U.S. pork and beef in the 11 months through Nov. 30, the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Hog futures for April settlement dropped 0.4 percent to settle at 89.25 cents a pound today on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the first decline this week.

The U.S. National Pork Producers Council, which conducts public-policy outreach on behalf of its 43 affiliated state associations, has yet to comment following an e-mailed query by Bloomberg yesterday.

“Obviously Russia is not the largest market for U.S. pork producers, but it is still a significant market,” Sergey Yushin, head of the Moscow-based National Meat Association’s executive committee, said by telephone yesterday.

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