Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., says Russia's decision to ban imports of American pork and poultry should be a wake-up call to U.S. farmers. Slaughter's comments come in the wake of recent announcements that Russia would block shipments of U.S. poultry beginning this month because of concerns that poultry here is routinely dunked in chlorine to kill germs before it is sold to consumers. Moscow also recently announced plans to halt imports of pork from the U.S. because of a dispute over standards for antibiotic residue.
Slaughter, who is sponsoring legislation that would phase-out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, wants Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to revisit current laws with respect to livestock safety in order to ensure that American farmers are not – in her words – further harmed by poorly considered rules.
She says the overuse of antibiotics has potential serious trade implications as other countries decide that risks are not worth it and adds that using chorine to kill bacteria in our food supply is not a sane way to operate.
U.S. poultry industry officials insist the chlorine treatments are safe and help protect consumers from food-borne illnesses. Russia is the top U.S. chicken export market and the fifth-largest buyer of pork.