Russian meat standards must be met

MEAT producers on the North Coast have been warned they must reach export standards if they want to access the lucrative Russian market.

From January 1, Russia imposed a zero tolerance approach to the antibiotic oxytetrocycline and Australian imports have already been detected in breach.

Australian farmers can only export meat to Russia if they haven't used the antibiotic in the last 90 days.

Northern Co-operative Meat Company general manager Gary Burridge said the change meant farmers could lose money unless they marked their product 'Russia eligible' on their vendor declaration.

"Farmers on North Coast should not be impacted because it's just a simple statement to say their meat is Russian eligible, but where it will impact on them is if they don't declare its Russian eligible which could have commercial implications."

Mr Burridge said the meat in question could have come from four different feedlots.

"We've isolated the offending feedlots - there are four it may have come from - two in Queensland and two in Victoria. They are all complying with Australian requirements, it's just that Russia has a zero tolerance for that chemical so there is no inference they were acting inappropriately."

He denied the accuracy of Australia's system of tracing meat was in question.

Australia's meat trade with Russia is worth $350 million.

Safemeat secretary Ed Klim said intensive monitoring will be used to ensure the problem does not occur again.

"The industry is being proactive and careful here because it's a very valuable market," he said.

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