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Russia to Lift Ban on U.S. Turkey Imports

Russia is planning to partially lift a ban on meat imports from the United States by next week, a senior food safety official said.

Alexei Alekseyenko, an assistant manager at the Rosselkhoznadzor federal veterinary standards agency, said Russia would overturn the ban on turkey meat, although other bans are remaining in place.

The import of US pork, beef, and turkey was halted last February over concerns about the safety of human consumption of the growth-stimulant ractopamine, a common additive in animal feed in the United States.

"We will lift the ban beginning February 24. Restrictions on two companies have already been lifted, and the results of inspections of a third company have been sent … for approval," Alekseyenko said Tuesday.

The US government and the food industry lobby insist that ractopamine has been shown to be safe for human consumption. The UN's food safety watchdog has also certified the chemical safe to eat, albeit at a level five times lower than that allowed in the United States.

Meat from animals fed the chemical is prohibited for sale in Russia and more than 150 countries, including all EU member states.

In December, US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said that US companies have lost millions of dollars in sales following the ban.

US meat producers exported $589 million of beef and pork to Russia in 2012, a spokesman for the US Meat Export Federation told RIA Novosti last year.

The ban came amid a souring of relations between the two countries over issues including the ongoing civil war in Syria, gay rights, and the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

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