Beef may get caught-up in Russian sanctions over Crimea

Beef Central, 21/03/2014


Australia’s beef trade to Russia may be caught up in tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and trading partners sparked by its attempt to annexe the Crimea region from the Ukraine.

Russian state-owned media has reported that the head of Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance service has suggested traces of HGP ingredient, trenbolone acetate, were detected in Australian beef sent to Russia in February.

Australia’s Federal Agriculture Department says it's received no formal notification that Russia is planning to suspend beef exports from Australia, despite the claims.

Russian authorities said the detection contravened a December agreement between the two countries that Australian meat exports to Russia would be free of the compound.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier announced targeted financial and travel sanctions on political figures in Russia and Ukraine, in response to Russia’s attempts to annexe the Crimean peninsula. Russia has warned that there would be 'consequences' for nations that imposed sanctions.

There’s nothing new in Russian claims that sub-MRL traces of TBA have been found in Australian exports, however. In December, Beef Central reported that Russia had imposed temporary suspensions or greater levels of product testing on a number of Australian export beef processors, following the detection of TBA in Australian beef offal exports.

A de-listing on imports of beef from one Australian exporter was imposed, due to the detection of TBA in beef liver. Another four Australian companies in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia were placed under increased monitoring by Russian authorities, following the detection.

The development was described by Australian trade stakeholders as ‘a combination of Russian vigilance, but also another example of Russia’s desire to find any way it can to restrict trade.’

While the concentrations of the compounds found in Russian testing of Australian products was well below maximum residue limits imposed by Australia and recognised by most international customer countries, Russia has a zero tolerance for TBA and zeranol residues.

There have never been any detections of Australian beef exceeding the Australian or internationally-accepted MRL for either compound.

Russia has a recent history of imposing unexpected and sometimes perplexing temporary and longer-term suspensions from a number of meat exporter countries, for residue and phyto-sanitary reasons. A total ban currently applies to US and Canadian beef, for example, over the use of another growth enhancer, ractopamine.

"The Russian market is important for Australian beef and the Department is working closely with the export meat sector to ensure our product complies with Russia's requirements, including regarding freedom from trenbolone," the Department of Agriculture said yesterday.

Australian exports to Russia and the former CIS states reached 30,317t last year – a disappointing decline from 35,000t a year earlier and a long way from the days of exports well above 60,000t in 2010 and 2011. 


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