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No ban on imports of ready-to-eat pork products from Europe imposed in Russia so far

January 31, 2014, 23:58 updated at: February 01, 2014, 3:45 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, January 31, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia has not yet imposed a ban on imports of ready-to-eat meat products from the European Union over a threat of African swine fever (ASF) infection, head of Russia’s federal veterinary control authority (Rosselkhoznadzor) Sergei Dankverk told Itar-Tass on Friday.

“So far we allow imports of ready-to-eat products,” because veterinary certificates for such products specify a concrete country of origin, he said, adding that raw meat certificates indicate the European Union in general as a territory of origin.

Dankvert noted that current agreements prohibited to import pork products from an ASF-infected territories to the Customs Union [of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan]. However, imports of ready-to-eat meat products may later be banned from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland. It will be a subject of talks at consultations with the Customs Union partners on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

He also said that Rosselkhoznadzor’s approaches to the ASF threats were shared not only by Russia’s Customs Union partners, but also by Ukraine, which imposed restrictions on pork imports from Europe and offered to carry out regionalization of the disease. “We think it won’t take much time. Their proposals are more constructive than Europe’s ones,” Dankvert stressed.

In his words, Latvia also initiated to hold consultations on ASF regionalization. At the same time, the Russian veterinary service official noted that Rosselkhoznadzor considered the European Commission’s approach to the threat of ASF epidemics as superficial. The European Commission, in his words, had offered Rosselkhoznadzor to recognize only six Lithuanian regions as ASF-infected.

But the real state of things shows that the ASF-infected areas might be wider. “The fact that two ASF outbreaks were registered in two different localities proves that there had been previous infections,” he noted, adding that in this case the threat of ASF spread was extremely serious. He did not rule out that the infection could be brought to Europe by Lithuanian citizens seeking jobs outside their country.

Earlier on Friday, Russia’s chief veterinary inspector Yevgeny Nepoklonov said in his letter to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers that Rosselkhozbadzor was ready to allow imports of only heat treated pork products of the European origin, with each batch having a written guarantee of the official veterinary doctor of a relevant European Union country.

Russia has imposed restrictions on imports of pork products from the European Union over an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in Lithuania. ASF virus is killed only in the process of heat treatment.

Also on Friday, Russian Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fedorov told journalists that Russia was not interested in banning imports of European pork over an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in the European Union.

“We do not want to impose any bans or embargo on pork imports to Russia and the Customs Union [of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan],” he said, adding that the current agreements bound the European Union not to let potentially hazardous products be exported outside its boundaries in case of highly dangerous epidemics.

According to Fedorov, Russia will make an exemption in case the European Union uses such an instrument as regionalization of the disease. “If they prove to our veterinary service that the European Union has ASF-free zones, no restrictions will be imposed on products originating from those zones,” he noted, adding that Russia was holding daily consultations on the problems of African swine fever with Lithuania, where Europe’s first ASF outbreaks had been reported from.

“We are working very carefully and in a civilized manner,” he said. In his words, Russia’s position at negotiations with the European Union’s veterinary authorities was that the European Union should monitor the situation round-the-clock and make steps to regionalize the disease.

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious notifiable disease of pigs caused by a virus. The disease may occur in acute, sub-acute or chronic forms. The acute form causes severe disease from which the majority of affected pigs die. African swine fever can be spread through direct contact with infected pigs, faeces or body fluids; indirect contact via fomites such as equipment, vehicles or people who work with pigs between pig farms with ineffective biosecurity; pigs eating infected pig meat or meat products; biological vectors - ticks of the species Ornithodoros. There is no vaccine against African swine fever, which can be stopped from spreading only through culling infected animals. The first African swine fever outbreak was registered in South Africa in 1903.

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