MOSCOW – Russia's ban on US frozen meat exports became effective Feb. 11, and the country's chief health inspector said he expects the ban will be lengthy, according to news reports.

A ban on chilled meat began Feb. 4. Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, imposed the ban after receiving no response to its request for information about measures the US is taking to prevent exporting chilled and frozen meat products with ractopamine residues.

The United Nations has ruled that ractopamine in meat is not a health hazard at low levels. But the feed additive is banned in several countries.

Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russia's consumer safety agency, was quoted as saying the ban on "practically all US meat and meat products will be long term.”

Russia added turkey meat imports to its list of banned meat products. The ban, which also started Feb. 11, includes turkey meat and value-added products. In a statement that was posted to Russia's phytosanitary and veterinary agency web site, poultry groups responded to the ban saying US poultry producers comply with Russia's requirements.

“In response to recent press publications the National Turkey Federation (USA) and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council informed their trade partners that none of American turkey producing plants approved for product export to Russia DON’T USE ractopamine neither in feeds nor in the manufacturing process whereas the Codex Alimentarius Commission determined ractopamine safety," the National Turkey Federation said in a statement in response to the ban. "All turkey meat and chicken broilers supplied from plants approved for export to the Russian Federation fully comply with Russia official veterinary and sanitary requirements.

"Food safety is an overall priority for the USA turkey industry and its products are the essential nutrient source for consumers all over the world”.