Poultry Meat Companies Support Chlorine Ban

RUSSIA - Poultry meat producers and processors want an end to the dispute over imports of US poultry meat but seem to be in no mood to back down over the ban. High-level talks will take place between Russian and US officials later this week.
calendar icon 18 January 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

Russia's poultry meat sector hopes that talks this week will find a compromise over Moscow's new food safety rules that threaten to halt the current large imports of US chicken because it is treated with chlorine, reports Moscow Times. Otherwise, Russians will have to struggle to find other sources.

Andrei Teryokhin, head of the Russian Poultry Market Operators' Association, said: "Alternatives may be found. There are major producers like Brazil, the European Union, Argentina, Canada, Turkey and Thailand." But, he said, this may disrupt the market and prove to be time consuming.

Technical experts headed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Jim Miller and Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Federal Consumer Protection Service, are scheduled to hold talks in Moscow on meat safety later this week (19 and 20 January).

Sergei Yushin, head of the National Meat Association, said there were countries that could increase poultry meat production rapidly and ship it to Russia.

He added: "But they will do it only if they receive guarantees that their products will be bought."

Mr Teryokhin does not expect the United States to exclude chlorine washes to meet the Russian standards. But he said a compromise was possible over the estimate of the chlorine residue content.

He said: "US products should correspond to Russian safety standards, while the Russian side should present its demands to the products and not to their production process. When there is a wish, there is hope of a compromise."

The outcome of the talks will depend on experts’ estimate of possible risks presented by chlorine in poultry meat, Mr Yushin said.

Moscow Times reports that the CEO of meat producer Cherkizovo, Sergei Mikhailov said it was not afraid of a poultry meat deficit if US exports halted. He added that Cherkizovo stopped using chlorine in its production process several years ago.

He said: "We cheer the Russian government decision, which stimulates domestic production development to the benefit of consumers."

RIA Novosti reports comments from Irina Ostryakova of the Cherkizovo Group.

She said: "Russian [poultry] producers will increase output and they were ready for [the ban] on the back of earlier forecasts on lower import quotas."

She added that Petelinka, one of Russia's key poultry producers and a Cherkizovo subsidiary, had long used air-chilling in poultry processing. She refused to comment on substitutes for US chlorine-treated chicken.

Ms Ostryakova described the government motion as pro-Russian.

She added: "We are just taking the path Europe has chosen to improve production," referring to the ban on chlorine-rinsed poultry that has been in place in Europe since 1997.

Galina Bobyleva, general director of the Russian Poultry Union, also welcomed Prime Minister Putin's proposal.

She said: "This is certainly a cause for celebration, that quality requirements for imports are being raised."

She dismissed speculation that the ban would cause a poultry deficit on the domestic market or any price hike, reports RIA Novosti.

"We currently have huge reserves of unsold products," Ms Bobyleva said.

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