The New Zealand Embassy in Moscow is engaging with Russian authorities "as a matter of urgency" over Russia's ban of beef and beef offal, a senior official at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said.

Russian veterinary authorities announced overnight a ban on imports of New Zealand beef and beef offal, effective from February 6, following what it said were detections of contaminants in excess of Russian standards.

New Zealand did not receive prior notification of the ban and officials are seeking further clarification about the announcement, Rachelle Linwood, director market access at MPI, said.

Russian authorities enquired about ractopamine in 2012 and New Zealand confirmed that ractopamine was not registered in New Zealand for use in beef animals. "This still holds true," she said in supplied comments.


"New Zealand food standards are among the highest in the world and we are committed to producing high quality safe meat for domestic and overseas consumers," Linwood said.

"Regulatory issues arise from time to time in our trading relationships, and New Zealand officials work with the relevant authorities to resolve them," she said.

Russia is a minor export destination for New Zealand beef and veal.

In 2014, New Zealand exported 1524 tonnes of beef and veal to Russia valued at $20.6 million.

In 2015, New Zealand exported 369 tonnes of beef and veal to Russia valued at $5.2 million and in 2016, beef and veal exports to Russia accounted for 0.2 percent of New Zealand's total red meat exports.