Russia bans U.S. poultry

Jan 15, 2010
by DTN

Russian officials began to block imports of U.S. poultry as of Jan. 1 because of concerns about a commonly used chlorine treatment, U.S. industry officials and a Russian news agency said last week.

Russia’s consumer protection agency has decided to enforce the ban, said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

The issue has threatened the top market for U.S. poultry—worth $801 million in 2008—for more than a year.

A week ago, Russian veterinary officials indicated trade would continue.

Poultry processors in the U.S. routinely use chlorine rinses to kill pathogens that can cause food poisoning.

There are no detectable residues left from the treatments, which have long stalled U.S. poultry exports to the European Union (EU). The U.S. has complained about the EU ban at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Russia’s requirements will restrict the use of chlorine in poultry plants to 0.5 parts per million, which Sumner said is 10 times lower than the standard chlorine content in U.S. municipal drinking water.

Technical and health-related barriers have become a thorn in U.S.-Russia meat trade, increasing as Russia moves to boost its domestic meat production and decrease its reliance on imports.

Russia, which does not belong to the WTO, lowered its quota for U.S. poultry this year. But industry officials believe the chlorine issue will be worked out because Russia cannot yet produce enough to meet its needs.

“I think they will still need us for chicken,” Rich Nelson, analyst at the agriculture advisory firm Allendale Inc., said in response to the possible ban.

“I think they will need our chicken for at least another year,” Nelson said. — DTN