Russia has put a temporary halt on imports from two U.S. pork plants as well as plants in several other countries due to concerns over antibiotic residues in the meat, according to a Russian government official. Yevgeniy Khorishko, press secretary for Russia's U.S. embassy, said the two U.S. plants are owned by Smithfield Foods, according to a Dow Jones news report.

The affected Smithfield plants include its Tar Heel, N.C. facility -- the world's largest pork packing plant by volume -- and one in Clinton, N.C. Russia will accept product from those plants that was loaded prior to Sept. 28, after which neither plant will be eligible to export to that country.

Pork from the plants contained "excessive presence of antibiotics," the Russian official said. The new Russian ban also applies to plants in Germany, Spain, Holland, France and other countries.

Russia is a major market for U.S. pork, although its purchases are down from 2009. U.S. pork exports to Russia for the first seven months of this year were down 43 percent from the same period a year ago, according to data maintained by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

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Source: Dow Jones Newswire