Russia restricts Australian beef exports over TBA detection

Jon Condon, 19/12/2013

Russia has imposed temporary suspensions or greater levels of product testing on a number of individual Australian export beef processors, following the detection of trenbolone acetate, an ingredient in some hormonal growth promotants, in Australian beef exports.

The action has taken the Australian industry by surprise.

Russia’s Federal Veterinary and Phyto-Sanitary Oversight Service announced yesterday that TBA, a steroid widely used in beef production to increase muscle growth, had been found in a number of Australian beef samples.

“This new finding could have the most serious consequences for Australia. It gives reason to doubt the safety guarantees provided by this country’s veterinary service,” a statement from Russia’s food safety agency said.

A de-listing on imports of beef from one Australian exporter will be imposed, effective yesterday, due to the detection of TBA in beef liver, the agency said. Another four Australian companies in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia have also been placed under increased monitoring by Russian authorities, following the detection of TBA in test samples.

Russia plans to expand the range of its testing of imported products as a result. “But even that which has been found is sufficient to impose more serious restrictive measures,” Russia’s agency said yesterday.

“The situation could develop fairly quickly if we find new cases of TBA. Whole companies whose enterprises have already received a black mark could lose the right to ship to Russia,” it said.

The development has been monitored 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.’

One suggestion today, was that the detection was linked more to Russia’s concerns about ractopamine in beef imports, especially those from the US and Brazil, and elevated testing for that compound which happened to pick up the Australian TBA compound.

“It appears to be on the back of those ractopamine concerns that this detection, and subsequent delisting and elevated testing has happened,” Beef Central’s source said.

Australia is one of Russia’s biggest beef suppliers. The list of market-eligible exporters includes 47 suppliers, shipments from eight of which have been banned for various reasons.

Year to date Russia and the CIS states have taken 29,000t of Australian beef, still short of the 33,000t taken for this period in 2012. Exports in November reached 3000t, more than double this month last year. 





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