Russia says could accept U.S. meat approved by EU

MOSCOW Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:01am EST

MOSCOW Feb 14 (Reuters) - Russia, which banned U.S. meat imports this week over additive fears, could accept meat from U.S. producers whose output has been approved by the European Union as being free of feed additive ractopamine, a senior official said.

Russia decided to ban imports of U.S. beef, pork and turkey from Feb. 11, saying it was concerned about traces of ractopamine in the meat.

"It would be permissible, for example, to take the list of companies allowed to supply to the EU as the list of producers that would have the right to supply products to the (Russian) Customs Union," Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service, said on Thursday.

Dankvert was speaking after a meeting with the U.S. Meat Export Federation representative in Moscow.

The European Union's standards regarding ractopamine-free products are identical to Russia's, Dankvert added in a statement published on the service's official website.

He did not say whether his proposal would be taken up by Russia and members of USMEF, a non-profit trade association, but said the ban remains in effect.

Used as a growth stimulant to make meat leaner, Ractopamine is banned in some countries over concerns that residues could remain in the meat and cause health problems, despite scientific evidence it is safe.

The move to ban U.S. meat imports worth over $500 million may also be an effort to help domestic producers withstand an influx of cheap meat after Russia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The veterinary and phytosanitary service, also known as Rosselkhoznadzor, believes American suppliers' desire to provide ractopamine-free meat to Russia deserves support, Dankvert said.

"But guarantees from the U.S. state veterinary service, which has avoided contact with Rosselkhoznadzor for three months, are needed for the trade to resume," he added.

Canada, Brazil and Mexico plan to submit a renewed list of suppliers of ractopomine-free products by the end of February, Dankvert said.

Russia imported 1.32 million tonnes of red meat, excluding offal, worth $5.12 billion from non-CIS countries in 2012, according to official customs data. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by David Holmes)

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