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Cablegate: Russian Vet Service Uses Typos On Vet

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #3175/01 3031249
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291249Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC PRIORITY 5394
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0546
INFO RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 4671
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 5224

UNCLAS MOSCOW 003175

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USDA FAS FOR OCRA/KUYPERS; ONA/SALLYARDS, MURPHY
- OSTA/HAMILTON, BEAN
PASS FSIS/JONES, DUTROW
STATE FOR EUR/RUS
STATE PASS USTR FOR PORTER, KLEIN
BRUSSELS PASS APHIS/FERNANDEZ
VIENNA PASS APHIS/TANAKA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD ECON WTO RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN VET SERVICE USES TYPOS ON VET
CERTS TO BLOCK TRADE

REF: A) HANSEN/DUTROW EMAIL, B) MOSCOW 2688, C)
MOSCOW 2435, D) MOSCOW 2143

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Russian Federal Veterinary
and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS)
informed via official letter that correction
letters from the USDA's Food Safety and
Inspection Service (FSIS) will not be considered.
Since the beginning of 2008, VPSS has ignored
dozens of correction letters and made clear that
no credence will be given to them or any future
such letters. In addition, VPSS stated that all
meat and poultry shipments that arrive to Russia
with minor typos on accompanying veterinary
certificates will be refused entry and returned
back to the United States. Original scanned copy
and courtesy translation were sent to FSIS on
October 28 (REF A). An informal embassy
translation of the backdated letter follows. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) BEGIN TEXT:
Moscow, October 27, 2008
No. FS-HB-2/10873

Assistant Deputy Administrator
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
Dr. William James

The Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary
Surveillance Service (VPSS) renders its respect
to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
(FSIS). In response to your request dated
September 17, 2008, I send you a copy of
veterinary certificate No. RFP-097425 issued for
products manufactured at enterprise No. 3S.

Simultaneously, we report that VPSS has
repeatedly informed FSIS about gross violations
of the Russian laws in the veterinary field. The
U.S. side is surely aware of these violations as
it is constantly sending corrective letters on
"clerical mistakes" made on veterinary
certificates. Just over the period of September
2008, FSIS has repeatedly informed VPSS of the
typographical errors including the following:

Manufacturing dates were misspelled in
certificates for pork cheeks RFP-121512 and RFP-
121514. There was a mismatch noted between
numbers of certificates and numbers of
certificates put on the boxes;

Meat processing plant numbers were not correct in
pork veterinary certificate RFP-097565;

The "CRLU" entry was missing in front of the
container numbers in poultry veterinary
certificates RFP-044299, RFP-044326, RFP-044287,
RFP-044288, RFP-044288, RFP-044297, RFP-044298,
RFP-044307, RFP-044309, RFP-044327, RFP-044328,
RFP-044329, RFP-044330, RFP-044342.

These facts, once again, demonstrate that the
U.S. veterinary service seriously lacks control
over livestock products shipped to the Russian
Federation and that necessary measures needed to
address this issue is not being taken.

Besides, pursuant to your letter and in
accordance with U.S. laws, FSIS does not have
authority of meat and poultry shipments once they
leave the facilities. In this connection, VPSS
will not consider letters related to meat and
poultry shipments to Russia that were detained at
port due to violations of Russian veterinary and
sanitary requirements. In accordance with
Russian Federation veterinary laws, these

products must be returned back to the United
States.

Doctor James, accept my assurances in the deepest
respect.

Attachment: in 2 pages (not included in this
telegram)

Deputy Head
N.A. Vlasov
END TEXT.

-------
COMMENT
-------

3. (SBU) VPSS has complained about the number of
errors being found on U.S. veterinary
certificates that accompany meat and poultry
shipments to Russia for over a year now.
Periodically, VPSS summarizes all of the typos
found on veterinary certificates and, as in this
instance, sends the list to FSIS via official
letter with a threat to ban either the facilities
in question and/or the entire U.S. meat and
poultry industry unless measures are taken to
stop the number of "gross violations of Russian
veterinary rules and regulations". Post has
reminded VPSS officials on numerous occasions
that typos on veterinary certificates have
nothing to do with food safety or quality of the
product in question. Nevertheless, VPSS views
minor and inadvertent clerical mistakes as "gross
violations of veterinary regulations" putting
them in the same category as detection of food
pathogens and antibiotics.

4. (SBU) VPSS has worked overtime to build a case
against FSIS to show that it is incapable of
ensuring that U.S. meat and poultry meet Russian
veterinary regulations so that trade can be
restricted when deemed necessary. Post's
internal investigation showed that only 0.25
percent of total U.S. meat shipments to Russia in
2007 arrived with veterinary certificates with
typos. While most would consider this to be an
acceptable margin of error that comes with large
trade volumes, VPSS believes otherwise by
enforcing a strict zero tolerance policy on all
human error. Post encourages Washington
addressees to seek higher-level intervention and
demand that Russia accept international standards
in such cases as called for by international
setting bodies.
BEYRLE

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