Russia chops Canadian meat supplier list to 19 plants

Russia’s plans to block meat imports from livestock raised on ractopamine will see its list of approved Canadian suppliers cut to 14 pork packing plants, four beef plants and one plant processing both.

Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s federal veterinary and phytosanitary service, said April 9 it had informed Dr. Louise Carriere, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s director for international market access in Ottawa, of its decision.

The remaining approved plants will continue to be eligible for exports as long as CFIA certifies them “solely and exclusively for products manufactured without the use of the growth stimulator ractopamine.”

Rosselkhoznadzor’s new list of “temporary restrictions” effective April 17 shuts the gate on any exports from major Canadian packers such as Cargill’s beef slaughter plants at High River, Alta. and Guelph, Ont., JBS’ beef slaughter plant at Brooks, Alta. and Maple Leaf Foods’ hog slaughter plant at Brandon, Man.

Rosselkhoznadzor’s deputy chief Yevgeny Nepoklonov said the service would “carefully consider” Canada’s proposals for “improvement of the system of separate production of ractopamine-free meat products” for export to the Customs Union (CU) countries of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Inspections of plants interested in exporting to the CU counties “may be arranged at the end of May-beginning of June of the current year,” Rosselkhoznadzor said, adding it would establish the specific terms in concert with veterinary officials in Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The 19 plants remaining on Rosselkhoznadzor’s approved list, released April 10, include:

  • Olymel’s hog slaughter and cutting plants at Vallee-Jonction, Princeville and St-Esprit de Montcalm, Que. and Red Deer, Alta.;
  • Maple Leaf Foods’ hog slaughter plant at Lethbridge, Alta. and its pork cutting and deboning plant in Winnipeg;
  • Bouvry Farms’ Viande Richelieu horse, elk, bison and beef processing plant at Massueville, Que., and its Bouvry Exports horse, elk, bison and beef slaughter plant at Fort Macleod, Alta.;
  • Agromex’s pork cutting plant at Ange-Guardien, Que.;
  • Great Lakes Specialty Meats’ hog processing plant at Mitchell, Ont.;
  • Groupe CNP’s pork processing plant at Riviere-du-Loup, Que.;
  • Britco Pork’s hog slaughter and processing plant at Langley, B.C.;
  • Viandes Decarie’s pork processing plant at Anjou, Que.;
  • Inland Packers’ hog slaughter and processing plant at Salmon Arm, B.C.;
  • Viandes Sherrington, a pork cutting and deboning plant at Sherrington, Que.;
  • Arctic Blast’s pork cutting plant at Terrebonne, Que.;
  • Donald’s Fine Foods’ beef and pork processing plant at Richmond, B.C.;
  • Canadian Premium Meats’ beef, bison, elk and venison plant at Lacombe, Alta.; and
  • Ecolait’s veal slaughter and processing plant at Terrebonne, Que.

Marketed in Canada by Elanco under the names Paylean and Optaflexx as a growth stimulant to make meat leaner, ractopamine is banned in some countries over concerns that residues could remain in the meat and cause health problems, despite scientific evidence indicating it’s safe.

Citing concerns over ractopamine, Rosselkhoznadzor also said last week it would only import beef from five of the 25 processing plants from which it had previously bought, and from two of the four horse meat plants, Enrique Sanchez, the head of Mexico’s agricultural safety agency Senasica, told Reuters last Wednesday.

However, he said, those five beef plants account for about 80 per cent of Mexico’s beef exports to Russia.

“This morning they sent us a report with their observations, and of course we don’t agree,” he said, adding that the Mexican beef industry does not use ractopamine.

Mexico’s total meat exports to Russia were worth US$251 million in 2012.

Canada’s exports of beef products to Russia in 2011 were valued at about C$24 million; its 2012 pork exports have been valued at about C$500 million.

— Network staff, with files from Adriana Barrera of Reuters in Mexico City.

CORRECTION, April 16, 2013: A previous version of this article and photo caption said the restrictions declaring certain meat plants ineligible would take effect April 10. The restrictions were announced April 10 but take effect April 17. We regret the error.

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