GLOBAL - The tense political situation in Ukraine has now led to Russia banning imports of food products, including poultry, from a number of countries, a move that seems likely to impact the Russian people at least as much as its trading partners. Food should not be used as a political bargaining tool, writes Jackie Linden. Also in the news in the last week was an update on the new poultry inspection system in the US and a survey of foodborne pathogens on UK chicken.
Russia's president Vladimir Putin has announced a ban on imports of agricultural and food products from countries including the US, EU, Canada, Australia and Norway in reaction to sanctions imposed against it by these countries.
The Russian government has today approved a list of food products which are included in the ban, which is effective immediately.
Imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, fruits and vegetables from the US, EU, Canada, Australia and Norway will therefore be banned for a year from today, said Russia's Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev.
US poultry organisations, the National Chicken Council and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council commented that they do not expect that a Russian ban on US poultry imports will have a great impact on the industry.
Commenting on the ban, the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation said: “This is clearly a political move. It is unfortunate that the biggest losers in this will be Russian consumers, who will pay more for their food now as well as in the long run.
A spokesperson for the White House commented: "Retaliating against Western companies or countries will deepen Russia's international isolation, causing further damage to its own economy."
Russia has also being talking with some South American countries to increase exports. Brazil and Argentina have both approached Russia with the view to meeting the demand for poultry meat, it is reported.
In the United States in the last week, the Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced a critical step forward in making chicken and turkey products safer for Americans to eat.
Poultry companies will have to meet new requirements to control Salmonella and Campylobacter, and up to 5,000 foodborne illnesses will be prevented each year as a result of the New Poultry Inspection System, an updated science-based inspection system that positions food safety inspectors throughout poultry facilities in a smarter way.
Also on food safety, a new survey of Campylobacter on fresh shop-bought chickens in the UK reveals that 59 per cent of birds tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter. In four per cent of samples, Campylobacter was identified on the outside of the packaging.
And finally, on bird flu news, the Taiwanese veterinary authorities have carried out intensified surveillance for three months after the H5N2 outbreak was detected and there have been no signs of the virus.
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