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Russia to ban US meat imports Feb 11: agency

Russia on February 11 will stop importing all US meat and meat products over concerns about the use of a feed additive that is banned in Europe, Interfax quoted Russian officials as saying on Wednesday.

The decision follows the Rosselkhoznadzor veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance service's earlier decision to ban the import of chilled meat products from the United States as of February 4.

It also comes amidst a broader chill in Russian-US relations linked to Washington's retaliation against alleged rights abuses by Moscow officials.

The ban relates to a drug called ractopamine which is added to feed in the United States and other countries to promote the development of lean meat.

The drug has been banned by both the European Union and Russia as well as China.

Rosselkhoznadzor head Sergei Dankvert told Interfax that traces of the drug were still being discovered in meat coming from the United States and that Russia intended to stop all imports as a result.

"Since the violations are continuing and we are detecting ractopamine in meat being supplied by the United States, we intend to introduce limits on the import of these products as of February 11," Dankvert said.

The US Meat Export Federation -- a non-profit trade association -- said that "only a very small portion of US meat exported to Russia was in chilled form" and would fall under the first ban.

However it said that most US meat that is exported to Russia would fall under the ban that comes into effect February 11.

The USMEF estimates annual US meat and pork exports to Russia at about $500 million (370 million euros).