UPDATE 2-Russia to ban U.S. turkey imports over feed additive
MOSCOW/CHICAGO, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Russia will ban imports of U.S. turkey because of concerns about the use of feed additive ractopamine, Russia's Veterinary and Phyto-Sanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) said in a statement on Monday.
The service will impose a temporary ban on U.S. turkey starting from Feb. 11, it said.
It earlier decided to ban imports of U.S. beef and pork from the same date for the same reason.
A U.S. poultry trade group on Monday said U.S. turkey companies that ship to Russia do not use ractopamine.
Ractopamine is a growth stimulant used to make meat leaner and which is banned in some countries because of concerns it could remain in the meat and cause health problems, despite scientific evidence showing it is safe.
Russia imported 356,800 tonnes of poultry worth $516 million from non-CIS countries between January and October 2012, customs data showed.
The United States, through November last year, exported 3,930 tonnes of turkey to Russia valued at $7.8 million, which was up 115 and 118 percent from 2011 in terms of quantity and value, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service.
A U.S. Agriculture Department spokesman said they were aware of reports Russia plans to ban imports of U.S. turkey meat, but "have received no official communications from the Russian Veterinary Service on this matter.
"Clearly we would have great concerns about any such action" if it were to occur, the spokesman added.
U.S. industry officials also said the situation was unclear.
"We've seen similar reports in the Russian media, but cannot confirm them as Russia has made no official notification to the U.S. government," said USA Poultry & Egg Export Council President James Sumner.
USAPEEC has found that U.S. turkey companies that ship to Russia do not use ractopamine in their flocks.
"So, if this is true, we're hopeful that it's only a misunderstanding and that it can be resolved without impacting our turkey exports to Russia," Sumner said.
Leading U.S. turkey producer Cargill Inc has not exported turkey to Russia for at least five or six years because of that country's import restrictions, said company spokesman Michael Martin. Cargill does not disclose its feed formulas, he said.
Analysts have said Russia's action against U.S. meat was linked to the Senate's passage of the trade bill that sought to punish Russian human rights violators, something the government has denied.