Russia says it plans to send inspectors to Canadian cattle and pork plants beginning next month after it recently unveiled stricter rules on its meat imports.
Russia’s federal service for veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance says it will now only accept meat imports from 18 Canadian plants, compared with 60 that were approved prior to the new guidelines.
The revised list includes 14 pork processing plants, three beef processing plants and one plant that processes both animals. It goes into effect on April 17.
The changes are the latest restrictions imposed by Russia on the use of the feed additive ractopamine in Canadian livestock.
Ractopamine is used to create lean meat, and has been banned in several countries including South Korea and Taiwan. In Canada, it is approved for safe consumption by Health Canada.
In December, Russia announced it was banning any Canadian meats that contain the additive. Its new guidelines now restrict meats that are also processed at plants that use ractopamine.
Russia is Canada’s third-largest market for Canadian pork, with exports worth about $500-million last year.
Martin Charron, vice-president of Canadian Pork International, says officials from both governments are in discussions about getting more plants approved to export to Russia again.
Mr. Charron says the list that Russia worked with may be outdated, because officials there have not inspected Canadian plants for at least two years.
“We have establishments not on that [approved] list that are ractopamine-free,” he said from Ottawa.
“When the Russians announced their intention to ban ractopamine in early December, many of our members decided to implement procedures to basically remove ractopamine from their production … The Russians basically looked at their file and established a list based on that.”
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has previously said that Canada abides by international guidelines on ractopamine use.
Last year, Canada exported $15-million worth of cattle products to Russia last year – with the majority being liver products.