Russia Widens Ban on Meat Imports

GLOBAL - In the wake of the 'swine flu' crisis, Russia has extended its ban on meat imports. For poultry meat, the ban now covers five US states although there is no evidence whatever that humans can become infected with the flu virus from any meat.
calendar icon 29 April 2009
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Bloomberg reports that Russia has now banned imports of US pork from 13 states and halted shipments of beef and poultry from five of them, following the outbreak of swine flu. China, Kazakhstan and St Lucia also imposed pork bans.

Imports of all three meats from California, Texas, Kansas, New York and Ohio were halted by Russia as of 21 April, according to a statement on 28 April on the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service web site.

Russia also will not accept pork or pork products from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida, the USDA said in the statement. Russia was the largest importer of US poultry and the fourth-largest buyer of US pork last year, according to USDA data.

China also will not accept US pork and pork products from California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas as of yesterday, the USDA said in a separate statement. The country, including Hong Kong, was the second-largest buyer of US pork last year. Hong Kong has no plan to ban pork imports, Gabriel Leung, under-secretary for food and health, told reporters on 27 April.

US government officials are concerned that the flu will prompt countries to ban pork unnecessarily. Restrictions 'resulting from the recent outbreak do not appear to be based on scientific evidence and may result in serious trade disruptions without cause', Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on 28 April in an e-mailed statement.

"You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products," the officials said.

The US Embassy in Moscow today urged Russia to overturn a partial ban on American meat because of the outbreak, saying "There's no evidence that the virus is transmitted by meat".

The Americans "are protecting the interests of their exporters and this is all," said Alexei Alekseenko, a spokesman for Russian veterinary watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, told Bloomberg by phone from Brussels.

Kazakhstan also blocked US pork exports from Texas, California and Kansas as of 27 April, and St Lucia, an island nation in the Caribbean, has banned all pork from the US, the USDA said today in separate reports.

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