The headline-grabbing recall of over half a billion eggs for Salmonella contamination in the U.S. is complicating the ongoing dispute with Russia over the acceptance of U.S. poultry products.

“In light of reports in the U.S. media of an outbreak of Salmonella caused by contaminated eggs, we are assessing the situation to find out if there is a need to toughen [regulations on] poultry imports from the United States,” Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Russian Federal Service for Consumer Rights and Human Welfare Protection, told Russian media last week.

cutting-chicken1-featured.jpgThe comments sparked further frustration for lawmakers and industry groups who have widely criticized Russia for slow progress in ending a months long trade dispute, which began when Russia announced it would no longer accept poultry processed with chlorine, a chemical widely used as a food safety intervention in the U.S.

In June, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev announced they had

resolved the dispute, with both sides signing a joint letter agreeing to

resume exports of U.S. poultry not treated with chlorine, listing three

acceptable, alternative pathogen reduction treatments: cetylpyridinium

chloride, hydrogen peroxide, and peroxyacetic acid.

Last week Russia re-listed four U.S. poultry plants as eligible exporters: Sanderson Farms in Laurel, Mississippi, Tyspon Foods in Springdale, Arkansas, Peco Foods in Bay Springs, Mississsippi, and Pigrim’s Pride in Russellville, Alabama, according to Meatingplace.  RIA Novosti, Russian state media, reported that five processors have not yet received approval.

Monday a bipartisan group of 30 senators wrote the Russian government to

express their concern over “Russia’s failure to fully honor” the

agreement between the two countries.

The senators urged the Russian government to follow through on the commitment made by Russian President Medvedev and immediately allow full importation of U.S. poultry products into Russia.

“Russia is a valuable trading partner to the poultry producers in our states. These actions are a setback to our countries’ trade relations,” wrote the senators. “We ask you to honor the commitment our two presidents made less than two months ago and implement the agreement without further delay.”

The Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to Russian authorities, via the U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Moscow, the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service announced last week. “It included assurances that U.S. broiler production is not involved in the (egg) recall,” USDA spokeswoman Sally Klusaritz told Reuters.

The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council sent a similar letter to Russsia last week, explaining that poultry, meat, and eggs are produced in separate facilities.

Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value, making Russia the single largest U.S. export market, according to the Senate agriculture committee, which notes the poultry industry represents over 500,000 jobs in the United States.