* Meat imports from suppliers using ractopamine to be
* Russia to test shipments during transition period
* Health watchdog denies move is retaliatory for "Magnitsky
MOSCOW, Dec 8 Meat imports to Russia from
producers using ractopamine must be tested and certified free of
the feed additive, the country's veterinary regulator said, with
Moscow's health watchdog denying the requirement is a political
The move, announced a day after the U.S. Senate approved a
bill to expand trade between Washington and Moscow that also
sought to punish Russian human rights violators, could
jeopardize North American meat beef and pork suppliers.
It would potentially make the United States, which exports
more than $500 million a year worth of beef and pork to Russia,
significantly less competitive, giving advantage to Chinese and
European Union meat producers, where ractopamine is banned.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation said the U.S. Department of
Agriculture had no testing and certification program in place
Russia's plant and health regulator, Rosselkhoznadzor, said
that as of Friday it would allow for an unidentified transition
period during which in the absence of a needed certification,
Russia will test each shipment itself.
"During this period the veterinary service of the suppliers
have to create a system of laboratory testing of products
certifying the absence of ractopamine," the regulator said in a
statement posted late Friday on its website.
Analysts said the Russian move was linked to the U.S.
Senate's passage of the "Magnitsky Act" as part of a broad trade
bill, which drew an angry response from Russia where officials
called it "absurd."
Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief health inspector and
head of the state consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor,
denied the requirement of testing and certifying meat imports
for ractopamine was retaliatory.
"In Russia, (ractopamine) is not included in the register of
products approved for use," Onishchenko told the news agency
Interfax on Saturday.
"We can only regret that American Federation analysts on
meat exports lacked even a tiny bit of imagination to classify
the 27 countries of the European Union, China and all other 167
countries that have banned the use of this product as opponents
of the 'Magnitsky Act' adopted by the U.S. Senate."
Ractopamine is used as a feed additive to make meat leaner,
but countries such as China have banned its use despite
scientific evidence that it is safe. The United Nations has
agreed on acceptable levels of the drug.