US senators challenge Russian meat import restrictions

Russia negotiates with potential poultry suppliers

As U.S. trade officials prepared for talks with Russia, two members of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee have asked President Obama to challenge Russian regulations curtailing U.S. meat exports to that country, according to Food Safety News.

Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), chair of the committee, and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), ranking member, wrote in a letter to Obama that the Russian government’s restriction on chlorinated water in poultry processing, which went into effect at the beginning of the year, is unfounded because “numerous studies and most recognized scientific bodies worldwide have found this practice to be entirely safe. It is also our understanding that a significant number of poultry processors in Russia use the same technique. Since almost all U.S. poultry plants use chlorine rinses, this action has essentially closed their market to our product.”

The senators also expressed concerns over Russian restrictions on U.S. pork, writing that “a variety of Russian ministries have raised a series of questionable or undocumented objections about processing or residue issues for products originating from specific U.S. plants, leading to those facilities being de-listed for eligibility to export to Russia. With the de-listing of nearly 30 pork processing plants, 98% of pork processed in the United States is ineligible for export.”

Meanwhile, Russian First Vice Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is negotiating with several other countries to replace U.S. poultry imports, which accounted for more than a fifth of Russia’s poultry supply in 2009.

According to, Zubkov said U.S. poultry can be replaced by chicken from South America, the European Union or the Middle East if U.S. processors do not comply with Russian chlorine standards.

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