Egg Crisis Could Spill into Poultry Exports to Russia
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
The Russian government agency that initiated the U.S. poultry ban in January could start imposing more obstacles to U.S. poultry exports to Russia after half a billion eggs were recalled in the United States last week amid a salmonella outbreak, the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported.
"In light of reports in the U.S. media of an outbreak of salmonella caused by contaminated eggs, we are assessing the situation to find out if there is a need to toughen [regulations on] poultry imports from the United States," RIA Novosti quoted Gennady Onishchenko, head of Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian Federal Service for Consumer Rights and Human Welfare Protection, as saying on Monday.
Onishchenko also said the salmonella outbreak in U.S. table eggs justified the sanctions Russia imposed in January on chlorine-treated poultry imports from the United States and called on the U.S. government to provide more information, according to RIA Novosti.
His statements, if acted upon, would become the latest blow to implementing an agreement in June between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to restart U.S. poultry exports. To date, Russia has made about 11 U.S. poultry processing plants and 60 cold storage facilities eligible for export, with another roughly 16 processing plants waiting for approval.
According to the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, the egg recall has no bearing on poultry meat operations exporting to Russia, which are completely separate from egg laying operations.
"The egg recall is totally unrelated to poultry meat," USAPEEC spokesman Toby Moore told Meatingplace. "In fact, the nearest Russia-approved broiler plant is 500 miles away from the egg farms."
"All U.S. poultry facilities that have received permits for exports of poultry meat to Russia are currently using new technologies of poultry carcass disinfection which are in full compliance with Russian requirements on the safety of poultry products, including the presence of such pathogens as salmonella bacteria," said Mark Lobstein, Director of Technical Services, USAPEEC, in a statement prepared for the Russian media.
The poultry meat and egg segments of the U.S. poultry industry are completely separate entities, the USAPEEC statement explained. "The products never come in contact with each other and are produced at separate facilities remotely located from one another, which fully excludes any possibility of cross-contamination."
Layer hens for table eggs, called "light fowl," are bred for egg production and have little meat on them. After these hens are spent - too old for egg production - they are often sold for rendering and feed production.
"We don't sell light fowl as broiler meat," said Moore.
"Heavy fowl" are used to lay eggs that are fertilized to produce chickens for broiler meat. They are a different breed and produced in completely separate operations and companies. When those hens are spent, their meat is typically used in cooked products such as broths or soups.