WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2013 – Russia’s prohibition of imports of all U.S. beef, pork, turkey and other meat products became active today, due to a zero tolerance requirement for the presence of ractopamine.

United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued a joint statement in response to Russia's suspension of U.S. meat imports, noting they are “very disappointed” in Russia’s decision and insisting U.S. meat is produced “to the highest safety standards in the world.”

They also noted that the international food safety standards body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) concluded that animal feed containing the additive ractopamine is safe for livestock and for humans that consume their meat.

“Russia's failure to adopt the Codex standard raises questions about its commitment to the global trading system,” they said. “Despite repeated U.S. requests to discuss the safety of ractopamine, Russia has refused to engage in any constructive dialogue and instead has simply suspended U.S. meat imports.”

Along with the statement, USDA included a notice that ractopamine is used in 27 countries, and has been shown to be safe at levels established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the United Nation's Codex Alimentarius Commission.

In December, the U.S. Senate approved Permanent Normal Trade Relations status as part of Russia’s membership in the WTO. Included in the PNTR legislation is a human rights measure that bans certain Russian violators from receiving U.S. visas or opening U.S. bank accounts.

“The United States calls on Russia to restore market access for U.S. meat and meat products immediately and to abide by its obligations as a Member of the World Trade Organization," according to the joint statement.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the value of beef exports to Russia totaled $203.7 million and pork exports totaled $202.9 million from January to September, 2012.


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