Russia halts Australia beef byproduct imports over drug

Russia is temporarily banning the import of beef byproducts from Australia, citing the detection in shipments of a growth stimulant it prohibits and throwing into doubt exports that brought in around A$10 million (US$8.81 million) last year for Australia.

The ban will be imposed from Jan. 27 and was prompted by the detection of the growth stimulant trenbolone acetate (TBA) in several shipments, Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service said in a statement Thursday. It was not immediately clear when the ban will be reviewed.

“The suspension has been put in place following the detection of residues of the hormonal growth promotant trenbolone in a small number of export consignments,” a spokesman for the Australian Department of Agriculture told Reuters on Friday.

Most countries permit the use of TBA but Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States prohibit its presence in beef imports, analysts said.

Australia’s agriculture department has reiterated Russia’s requirements to meat exporters and moved to strengthen its certification requirements for products exported to Russia, the spokesman said.

Russia imported 12,435 tonnes of beef offal from Australia in the first 11 months of 2013, according to industry data, worth A$10.5 million.

Industry body Meat and Livestock Australia said the Russian market was worth about 10 per cent of annual Australian beef offal exports.

“Throw it on the pile”

TBA is approved for use in Canada and the U.S., according to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, but Canada has shipped virtually no beef to Russia since Russia last year banned beef produced with the growth stimulant ractopamine. The ban also affected U.S. beef.

“Just throw it on the pile of issues, things that Russia is doing and not abiding by science, not abiding by (trade) rules,” said John Masswohl, director of government and international relations for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

TBA is a synthetic hormonal growth promoter — one of three approved for use in beef cattle in Canada, as are three natural hormonal growth promoters. No hormonal growth promoter is approved in Canada for use in any species other than beef cattle.

Because of the Russian ban on U.S. beef, the use of TBA is a non-issue but could indirectly affect U.S. beef sales efforts to other counties, said Livestock Marketing Information director Jim Robb.

“Australia will likely need to redirect their exports in the short term to other countries where the U.S. currently competes,” he said.

Australia is the world’s third-largest beef exporter after the U.S. and Brazil. More than 30 Australian firms are currently allowed to supply beef and by-products to Russia.

TBA has not been allowed for the purpose of enhancing growth in animals in Brazil since 2011, a spokeswoman at Brazil’s agriculture ministry said.

Russia imported 1.1 million tonnes of red meat worth US$4.5 billion in January-November 2013, according to official customs data.

— Reporting for Reuters by Polina Devitt in Moscow and and Colin Packham in Sydney, Australia. Additional reporting for Reuters by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Theopolis Waters in Chicago and Caroline Stauffer in Sao Paulo. Includes files from Network staff.


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