U.S. not told if Russia plans to ban chicken imports - USTR

WASHINGTON Tue Feb 5, 2013 3:29pm EST

WASHINGTON Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. officials said on Tuesday they had no reason to believe that U.S. chicken exports to Russia were at risk of being halted because of Moscow's concern about the feed additive ractopamine.

Russia has announced plans to ban imports of U.S. turkey, beef and pork over the use of the additive.

"We have been informed by the Russian Veterinary Service that Russia intends to ban imports of U.S. turkey meat and prepared turkey products effective Feb. 11," in addition to earlier announced bans on beef and pork that are effective on the same date, Andrea Mead, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office, said in an email.

"USTR is working actively with USDA on this issue."

Mead said her understanding was that the latest decision on U.S. turkey from Moscow did not also cover chicken.

Ractopamine is a growth stimulant used to make meat leaner. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved it for use in beef, pork and turkey production, but not in chicken, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

Some countries ban the additive because of concern that trace elements could remain in the meat and cause health problems.

The United Nations' food safety body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, in July found the additive had "no impact on human health" if residue remains within recommended levels.

A media report on Tuesday said Russia's veterinary surveillance agency, known as Rosselkhoznadzor, was carrying out a probe of U.S. chicken to see if it contains any residue of the growth stimulant. (Reporting By Doug Palmer; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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