Getting another American chicken into Russia just got harder.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed into the Russian ban on U.S. chicken imports.
“We haven’t seen any readiness to meet Russian standards on the part of some of our partners, mainly the companies from the United States,” Putin said. “If our foreign suppliers are unable or reluctant to meet our security requirements, we will use other sources.”
The Russians banned chickens from countries using chlorine in poultry processing beginning Jan. 1 2010. Putin made the Americans the odd man out saying that Russia was merely joining the European Union in banning, for food safety reasons, chickens from chlorine-using counties.
“One shouldn’t look for political background in this case, God forbid,” said Russia’s former President and one-time KGB agent. “No political background here!”
Putin attended a meeting on Russian poultry production where it was announced that the country would import a total of 780,000 metric tons of poultry in 2010, and then continue to reduce imports in the years ahead.
The American quota would be 600,000 metric tons for 2010, down 20 percent from 2009. Since the ban, however, prices for American poultry in Russia are up about 20 percent.
Putin wants Russia to be poultry self-sufficient by 2015.
Since Russia raised the possibility of banning U.S. chickens for chlorine use in mid 2008, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council has tried to persuade officials in Moscow by sharing scientific studies. The poultry export market to Russia was valued at $825 million in 2008.
“The U.S. industry is committed to providing safe and healthful products to consumers in the United States as well as those in over 130 countries around the world, including Russia,” the USA Poultry and Egg Council said in a letter to Russian officials in late 2009,
The letter said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends the “use of hypochlorus (i.e. active chlorine) solutions as an effective antimicrobial.
“Based on a substantial body of scientific studies, FSIS’ best practices recommendations is to use 20-50 ppm of free available chlorine in immersion chilling systems.”
Before the prime minister got involved in the issue, many on the American side were optimistic about getting American chickens back into Russia. Now, however, Putin’s response to American arguments about the safety and science behind chlorine can pretty much be summer up in one word: “Nyet.”