November 9, 2011 / 12:26 PM / 9 years ago

Russia to ban German live pigs on safety concerns

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will impose a ban on imports of live pigs from Germany from November 15 for safety reasons after a case in which elevated levels of poisonous dioxin were found in a feed ingredient, health watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said on Wednesday.

“We are worried about the absence of coordination between the (German) federal and local veterinary services,” Alexei Alexeyenko, a spokesman for the watchdog said, explaining the ban.

“As a result we do not have sufficient guarantees that pigs are not tainted with dioxin, or they haven’t been fed antibiotics.”

The spokesman could not provide volumes of live pigs imports from Germany, although they are small in relation to Russia’s imports of pork meat.

Live pigs except for pedigree animals are liable to a high import tariff of 40 percent of customs value but no less than 0.5 euros ($0.69) per kilo.

Germany’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ministry said the Russian move was not justified.

“The context as presented here is not known to us and is not understandable,” a ministry spokeswoman said. “We are in discussions with our Russian partners to remove any possible misunderstandings.”

On Monday, German authorities said they saw no danger to the public after sugar producer Pfeifer & Langen reported it has produced the feed ingredient sugar beet pulp with dioxin levels of 1.0-1.6 nanograms, per kilo, “slightly above” permitted levels of 0.75 nanograms.

In January, an EU-wide health alert started when German officials said animal feed tainted with highly-poisonous dioxin had been fed to hens and pigs, contaminating eggs, poultry meat and pork at the affected farms.

Germany’s agriculture minister on Wednesday said the country will review use of antibiotics in farm animals.

Reporting by Aleksandras Budrys, additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg

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