. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vet Blames Poultry War On America

WASHINGTON -- A top Russian official blamed the United States for a dispute that temporarily interrupted booming U.S. poultry exports to Russia.

Chief Veterinary Inspector Vyacheslav Avilov said Tuesday he had raised concerns over the safety of U.S. poultry last May and the U.S. Agriculture Department failed to act.

Avilov spoke at a news conference the day after reaching a deal with U.S. negotiators that will allow the resumption of U.S. poultry exports to Russia.

Russia stopped issuing import licenses for U.S. poultry Feb. 16, although shipments with prior authorization were not interrupted.

Avilov said U.S. exports could resume in a matter of days, as soon as the U.S. government and producers implemented the agreement.

Russian veterinarians would inspect all U.S. slaughter and refrigeration plants before they were allowed to ship more poultry to Russia, he said.

Of 120 slaughter plants inspected so far, 15 have failed to meet Russian standards and will have to undergo further inspection, he said.

Russian inspectors have also examined 50 U.S. refrigeration plants, of which 10 were inadequate, he said.

Avilov denied U.S. accusations the ban was politically motivated, saying he had acted purely to protect Russian consumers.

Under Monday's accord, the United States agreed to a series of Russian demands for extra guarantees that salmonella and other health issues were being addressed in U.S. poultry slaughter plants.

No new standards were imposed under the agreement, only guarantees that existing ones were being complied with, Avilov said.

Russia was the importer of U.S. poultry last year, buying chicken worth $500 million.

Poultry shipped before March 20 would not be affected, he confirmed.