Watchdog Wants U.S. Guarantee on Chicken

The Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service wants a state guarantee of the inspection regimen at U.S. poultry plants authorized for exports to Russia before shipments can resume.

“The door will open as soon as the U.S. side provides guarantees that the authorized plants have been inspected properly,” said Alexei Alekseyenko, a spokesman for the service.

Russia, which imported U.S. poultry worth $767 million in 2009, blocked the meat in January by slashing the amount of chlorine that processors were permitted to use as a disinfectant. Officials agreed to import fowl disinfected with other substances after U.S. President Barack Obama intervened at a summit with President Dmitry Medvedev in June.

The accord hit a snag last week as importers made new demands, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday. Russians wanted to add an extra “step” to the agreement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture started sending Russia a list of facilities that could ship poultry under the new agreement, he said.

Pilgrim’s Pride said July 26 that it had received approval to resume exporting to Russia. Plants owned by Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms were among the U.S. companies listed by the USDA as approved to ship to Russia as of July 30.

Tyson Foods, the largest U.S. meat producer, will meet Russian veterinary officials tomorrow, according to the watchdog’s statement.

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