Russia suspends U.S. meat imports

Russia has enacted a temporary ban of meat imports from the United States. The suspension, which took effect this week, stems from Russia’s concern about U.S. use of the feed additive ractopamine, a growth stimulant used to produce American beef, pork and turkey products that are leaner.

A number of countries ban the additive, worried that trace elements could remain in the meat and cause health problems. However, the U.N. food-safety body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, said in July that the additive has “no impact on human health” if residue stays within recommended levels.

“The United States is very disappointed that Russia has taken action to suspend all imports of U.S. meat, which is produced to the highest safety standards in the world,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a joint statement.

“Russia’s failure to adopt the Codex standard raises questions about its commitment to the global trading system,” Kirk and Vilsack wrote. “Despite repeated U.S. requests to discuss the safety of ractopamine, Russia has refused to engage in any constructive dialogue and instead has simply suspended U.S. meat imports. The United States calls on Russia to restore market access for U.S. meat and meat products immediately and to abide by its obligations as a Member of the World Trade Organization.”

According to the Russian officials, the issue of the resumption of U.S. meat supplies to Russia, which were halted on Feb. 11 over ractopamine, can be resolved promptly if the U.S. veterinary services begin constructive dialogue.