Russia has banned buffalo meat imports from India after its inspectors found foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus in an imported consignment.
The incident is particularly relevant to Australia as political leaders from its near neighbour Indonesia consider opening their country to beef and buffalo meat imports from FMD affected countries such as India.
Australian aid efforts contributed to the eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease in Indonesia in the 1960s and 1970s. FMD is a highly contagious and rapidly spreading viral disease of livestock which can cause serious production losses and high mortality rates in young animals.
It can survive for long periods in fresh and partly cooked meat and dairy products.
An FMD outbreak in Australia would be devastating for the country’s export-dependent beef cattle industry, and moves by Indonesia to increase the risk of importing FMD would be of serious concern to Australia’s cattle industry.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, Russia, which last year banned meat imports from countries such as the US and Australia in response to western sanctions, began importing buffalo meat from India earlier this year, following prolonged talks and inspection of meat processing units in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
However it has been reported that Russian inspectors found the FMD virus in a consignment of imported Indian buffalo meat and immediately took the decision to stop import from the Indian sources.
The report said the Indian Government lays down standards for export of meat, which include standards for abattoirs, processing plants, and for various meat products. “As per the existing policy, each export consignment is subjected to compulsory microbiological and other tests and a comprehensive pre-shipment inspection is issued by the government veterinarian.”
India’s large buffalo meat export industry makes it the world’s largest exporter of bovine meat.
Indian beef is prohibited from export under the foreign trade policy.