U.S. Slams Russia's Move To Ban American Meat

Amid fears of swine flu, Russia widened a ban on meat imports from Mexico and some U.S. states, prompting objections from the United States.

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia widened a ban Tuesday on meat imports from Mexico and some U.S. states, prompting objections from the United States, which noted that eating meat has nothing to do with getting swine flu.

Rosselkhodnadzor, Russia's veterinary watchdog, added New York and Ohio to the list of U.S. states barred from exporting meat into Russia. Earlier, Russia banned meat products from Mexico and three U.S. states -- Texas, Kansas and California -- as the number of swine flu cases escalated and crossed international borders.

But the U.S. slammed the ban, stating that the disease was not spread through meat products.

"(In the) absence (of) any risk to human or animal health, there is no basis for any import restrictions on U.S. meat products related to concern over swine influenza," said the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. "We look forward to a quick resumption of normal meat trade with Russia."

Russia has also suspended pork imports that are not heat-treated from several Latin American countries and eight other U.S. states.

"We're upset with what the Russian government is doing right now," said Brian Black, spokesman for the Texas Department of Agriculture. "International commerce decisions should always be based on sound science. And right now there is no scientific evidence that swine anywhere in the world are infected with this influenza virus."

The World Health Organization has said the virus does not spread through eating infected pork.

Under international trade laws, countries are allowed to block imports on health and safety grounds if there is scientific evidence of potential risks.

Russia remains an important market for U.S. meat producers. Last year, the U.S. imported $836 million worth of poultry to Russia, $436 million worth of pork products and $75 million worth of beef.

So far, Russia has no reported cases of swine flu.

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