Infected meat hits grocery shelves in Russia

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

 The products were not dangerous to humans, according to Rosselhoznadzor
The products were not dangerous to humans, according to Rosselhoznadzor

Related tags: Pork

Russian meat processors have been found to be distributing meat infected with African swine fever (ASF) and even in some cases with highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI).

Russian veterinary body Rosselhoznadzor revealed cases of meat products with ASF genome in seven regions of the country over the past few weeks, it said in a statement earlier this month. The products were not dangerous to humans, and presumably were not even able to cause any new outbreaks amongst pigs.

According to Rosselhoznadzor the presence of ASF genome means that pork infected with the virus has been used at a meat processing facility.

The first incident when meat products with ASF genome hit the supply chain on the Russian food market was officially registered in 2014. Rosselhoznadzor has been repeatedly reporting on the similar incidents even since, primarily in the regions where ASF outbreaks take place.

Biggest outbreak ever

A preliminary investigation showed that the recent cases of ASF identification in meat products may be linked, as all infected pork were supplied by meat processors from Kaliningrad Oblast, where 111,000 pigs were culled at a farm of the local company Russian Baltic Pork Invest, in an outbreak that may be the biggest one reported in the Russian pig industry ever.

Alexander Vahromeev, chairman of the Meat Processing Union of Kaliningrad Oblast informed that the processing industry suffered an acute shortage of raw materials as the result of the outbreak. He explained that the local companies started importing pork from the other regions of the country, but it proved to be very expensive, since Kaliningrad Oblast is an enclave and so it is isolated from the rest territory of the country.

As the result of the outbreak, wholesale prices for pork in Kaliningrad Oblast jumped by 30% and this most likely will drive up the price for all sausages in the region in the coming two to three months, Vahromeev estimated. Due to the pork shortage processors suffer severe problems and the scandal with Kaliningrad meat with ASF being found all over Russia doesn’t help, as the retail chains now will refrain from buying meat products from the region, he admitted.

Meat with AI is of a greater concern

While ASF poses no danger to human health, AI is a different thing. In early July, the Agricultural Ministry of Udmurtia Republic reported that 17 tonnes of chicken and turkey meat containing AI virus was found in the region. No information about the strain of the virus and whether it is dangerous to human has been provided.

That was not the first time, when meat infected with AI appeared on the supermarket shelves in Russia. In May 2017, Russian agricultural holding Eurodon supplied turkey meat containing AI to five regions in the country.

The AI epidemic is gaining momentum in Russia with 28 outbreaks were registered in the country in incomplete July – more than in any other month over the past several years.

Related topics: Meat

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