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End in Sight to Stalemate over US/Russian Poultry Trade

by 5m Editor
22 February 2010, at 11:37a.m.

RUSSIA - Russian officials say they are ready to resume talks with the US within a week about poultry imports.

Russia's chief sanitary minister, Gennady Onishchenko, has said he is ready to discuss US poultry supplies to Russia as soon as 28 February, according to RIA Novosti. The trade was suspended from 1 January this year.

He commented: "They proposed meeting with us on 1 to 2 March. We confirmed our earlier voiced wish: we are ready at any moment, the sooner the better. They fly in on 28 February and I am ready to meet them on that day."

Russia banned imports of US chlorine-treated poultry as of 1 January, citing new safety requirements. Washington, which supplied 22 per cent of poultry consumed in Russia last year, says the move will damage American poultry industry and push prices up for Russian consumers.

The new requirements, which apply to both imports and meat processed in Russia, state that the amount of chlorine in the solution used for the processing of poultry meat should not exceed the level set for drinking water, 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams per litre. They also state the fluid that separates when defrosting the meat should not exceed four per cent of the total weight of the bird.

Chlorine in the United States has been used as the primary anti-microbial treatment for a quarter of a century.

Russia's quota for the United States this year is 600,000 metric tons of poultry. Imports from the United States, the world's largest poultry producer and exporter, accounted for some 750,000 tons of poultry consumed in Russia last year.

Russian producers and public have long been speculating over the possible dangers of the US product, citing excessive levels of hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and other chemicals.

According to RIA Novosti, a US expert earlier said the United States has its own strict poultry quality requirements and should it agree to Russian demands, it would no longer fall in line with its own sanitary requirements. Another American expert is reported to have said it is more important for the US to follow its own regulations than Russian ones not to lose its domestic market. He added that high content of chlorine is banned in Europe as a preventive measure while its risk has not been proven.

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