January 5, 2010

Russia Steps Up Ban on Almost All U.S. Pork Imports

Center for a Livable Future

Center for a Livable Future

Citing “drug residue” problems in shipments from U.S. pork producers, Russia has now banned imports of most pork produced in the United States by gradually disqualifying all but a handful of production plants, according to U.S. industry and government officials interviewed by Dow Jones newswires (see earlier article).

As of yesterday, Russia has now banned pork produced in 20 slaughterhouses owned by such companies as Smithfield Foods, Hatfield Quality Meats, Pork King Packing and Tyson Foods, the wire service says, citing a list maintained by USDA. Seven more pork-processing facilities have been disqualified in less than a month, effectively eliminating the remaining U.S. facilities that can export to Russia, the number five market for U.S. pork.

The press secretary for Russia’s embassy in Washington, D.C., Yevgeniy Khorishko, said his country has been forced to ban pork from the plants because antibiotic residues were discovered in the shipments. “Unfortunately, all the pig meat which comes from the U.S. has antibiotics,” he is quoted as saying, noting that such residues violate Russian health statutes. Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia’s farm watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, warned last month of increased bans could follow citing the presence of the antibiotic oxytetracycline.

U.S. industry officials dispute Russia’s claims about residues and charge Russia with simply trying to protect and promote its domestic pork production. Pig farmers in the United States have used antibiotics for more than 50 years “to treat and prevent disease or promote growth,” says the National Pork Producers Council.

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