MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia plans to ban temporarily imports of beef and beef products from New Zealand from Feb. 6 after finding the feed additive ractopamine in some samples, Russia's agriculture safety watchdog said in a statement on Thursday.
The watchdog, known as Rosselkhoznadzor in Russian, said it was also considering banning fish imports from New Zealand due to traces of mercury in some supplies.
New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries was not available for comment outside normal working hours.
New Zealand is not covered by a wider ban on most Western food imports which Moscow introduced in 2014 in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
Russia has a history of limiting imports in trade disputes. It has banned meat supplies from other countries in previous years, due to traces of ractopamine, which promotes muscle growth and is banned in several countries, including Russia and China.
The head of Russia's watchdog Sergei Dankvert plans to meet with an official from Brazil's Agricultural Protection Unit Luis Eduardo Pacifici Rangel in Moscow on Feb. 3, Rosselkhoznadzor said in a separate statement earlier on Thursday.
Both officials plan to discuss cooperation in veterinary and phytosanitory issues, it added. Brazil is a major global meat exporter.
Russia imported red meat worth $1.5 billion in January-November, 2016, according to customs data.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt; additional reporting by Olga Popova; Editing by Jane Merriman)