Watchdog Seeks Frozen Meat Processing Ban

The country's consumer rights watchdog is looking to ban the processing of frozen meat into sausages, hams, dumplings and other products, which, producers say, may cut imports and damage the industry.

"[Federal Consumer Protection Service head Gennady] Onishchenko has signed an order banning the use of frozen meat in meat products. It is currently being checked by the Justice Ministry," a spokeswoman for the service said Friday.

"The order will become effective if the ministry finds that it does not contradict the legislation and endorses it," she added without giving more details.

Russia imports around 30 percent of the beef and pork it consumes and 40 percent of its poultry meat, practically all of which arrives frozen. Imports are restricted by tariff quotas.

Meat industry officials say the order, if it comes into effect, may take a toll on imports.

"I hope that before this order is implemented, there will be a transition period allowing processors to change their technology, exporters to rearrange their shipments and traders to sell their stocks," said Musheg Mamikonyan, president of the Russian Meat Union, one of the main industry lobbies.

The head of another meat industry lobby said he did not believe the order could be implemented.

"I have not seen the order, but I think it will not be approved, or if it is, it will be revoked immediately," said Sergei Yushin, head of the National Meat Association.

"Putting imports aside, there is absolutely no way for a country to switch overnight to processing fresh and refrigerated meat instead of frozen, taking into account its huge dimensions and distances for meat transportation."