As senators push for action on Russian import restrictions, China looks at ractopamine

A group of U.S. senators have called on U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to quickly resolve a Russian ban on U.S. pork, beef and turkey products because of a disagreement over the feed additive ractopamine.

Earlier this month, Russia enacted import restrictions on the products over concerns they may contain ractopamine, a feed additive that promotes lean growth.

In a letter, the senators called the move an “egregious trade barrier with no scientific merit,” Food Safety News (FSN) reported.

The letter also states Russia may be in violation of the World Trade Organization’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement as the United Nation’s Codex Alimentarius, which creates international food standards and guidelines, set a safe residue limit late last year, according to FSN.

The measure passed the Codex Alimentarius Commission 69-67 – a move Russia and other nations have taken issue with.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a maximum residue limit (MRL) for ractopamine at 30 parts per billion (ppb) for beef and 50 ppb for pork. The Codex Alimentarius Commission set maximum residue limits for ractopamine at 10 ppb for beef and pork.

U.S. manufacturers that export turkey to Russia do not use ractopamine, the U.S. National Turkey Federation and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) said in a statement.

The 33 senators who signed the letter included Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture; Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS); Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA); Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), FSN reported.

The U.S. exports roughly $300 million in poultry products and approximately $500 million in beef and pork products to Russia annually.

China also recently announced beginning March 1, it wants a third party to verify U.S. pork shipped to the country is ractopamine-free. The U.S exports about $886 million in pork and pork products to China and Hong Kong annually, according to Reuters.

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