UPDATE 1-Russia to ban German chilled meat imports in Feb

Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:40am EST

* Russia eyes ban on Germany's poultry, beef and pork

* Moscow-Berlin ties have been frosty

* Russia requires testing for ractopamine for meat from the U.S. (Changes sourcing, adds detail)

MOSCOW, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Russia will stop importing chilled meats from Germany starting from Feb. 4 because of health concerns, a spokesman from Russia's animal and plant health watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said on Monday.

"The thing is that we can't accept guaranties from Germany's veterinary service. We have lots of questions to them, their existing veterinary service system is not perfect," Alexei Alekseyenko said.

The ban comes against a background of frosty relations between Moscow and Berlin, which has urged greater democracy and has been voicing its concern over human rights record in the former Cold War adversary.

Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization, where it was admitted last year after nearly 18 years of on-and-off negotiations, has so far been chequered, while the United States has said Russia's rules on meat imports appear to be inconsistent with WTO.

Moscow has required that the meat from the U.S. be tested and certified free of the feed additive ractopamine.

Earlier on Monday, Interfax news agency reported, citing a watchdog official, that Russia will halt supplies of chilled poultry, beef and pork from Germany starting from Feb. 4.

Interfax indirectly quoted him as saying that Germany was in breach of Russia's veterinary and health requirements.

Germany is normally allowed to export pork, beef and poultry to Russia at a discount tariff within quotas.

In 2011, Russia also banned poultry meat imports from Germany following a ban of pork imports due to fears the meat may be tainted with dioxin.

Alekseyenko said the reason for the current ban is not a specific health threat, but "Germany's red tape". (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by William Hardy)

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