EU Seeks End To Meat Ban On 7 Nations

BRUSSELS -- The European Union's executive arm said a ban by Russia on imported meat from large companies in seven EU countries was disproportionate and should be removed.

"The [European] Commission maintains that EU meat does not pose a risk to the consumer and that the measures taken by Russia are disproportionate," a spokeswoman for EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said in a statement Thursday.

"Therefore, the commission has requested Russia to review its measures," the statement said.

Russia, a major consumer of West European meat, has introduced a series of company-specific bans on pork, beef and poultry imports in the last few weeks after determining that antibiotic levels in meat shipments exceeded safe limits.

"On the basis of the initial information available to the commission, the levels of antibiotic residues reported by Russia remain in most cases well below the maximum residue levels allowed in EU legislation and in the international standard," the spokeswoman said.

The ban by Moscow has so far affected meat firms in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Belgium and Hungary, while imports from companies in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina have also been banned indefinitely. Some European diplomats in Moscow said the restrictions could be politically motivated and obstruct Russian accession to the World Trade Organization.