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Russia

There are no live animal wet markets in Russia. The meat of wild animals killed by individual recreational and professional hunters is subject to sanitary inspection before it is sold at farmers’ markets or supplied to stores, restaurants, and food processing establishments. Sanitary control is organized under the Federal Law on Veterinary Medicine and Animal Safety and regional rules establishing sanitary control stations at local markets and places for collecting game. The sanitary control of markets and the biological and bacteriological analysis of meat and meat products offered for sale are conducted by regional and local veterinary authorities. Rules approved by the federal Ministry of Agriculture are applicable nationwide and prescribe the methods and techniques for examining meat.

Even though the Russian internet is full of advertisements selling exotic animals, and offers to supply the meat of rare animals and birds can be found online, it appears that there are no markets in Russia where it would be legal to sell or slaughter live wild animals. Game animal meat is subject to the same sanitation and veterinary control rules as industrially or farm-produced food products sold at farmers’ markets across the country.

I. Legal Status of the Markets

Farmers’ markets traditionally existed in almost all Russian cities and large settlements and were usually managed by local trade departments. After market reforms were introduced in Russia in the 1990s, these markets were privatized and converted into private enterprises with a different legal status. It appears that most of them are joint stock companies and earn income by renting out their space to the traders. The market’s owners appoint its management or hire a managing company. Market managers are responsible for complying with applicable veterinary and sanitary standards.  

II. National Sanitary and Veterinary Legislation

The areas of food security and veterinary and sanitary control are subject to dual regulation by federal and regional authorities. The Federal Law on Veterinary Medicine and Animal Safety states that federal authorities decide on the establishment of a quarantine regime, issue mandatory safety instructions, and monitor the implementation of rules by regional and local sanitary authorities.[1] At the federal level, the government also maintains a national information system aimed at monitoring the traffic of all controlled goods and the issuance of veterinary-related permits and certificates.[2] According to the Law, all meat products should meet safety requirements and originate in territories that are not affected by the infectious diseases of animals.[3] The meat, subproducts of slaughtered animals, game meat, milk, milk products, eggs, and other products of animal origin, animal food, and food supplements are subject to control at markets and other points of sale. Food products that are not veterinary certified are not allowed to be sold.[4] Documents required to ensure the safety of products are defined by the Ministry of Agriculture Directive.[5] The procedure for sanitary and veterinary control of foodstuffs sold at markets or supplied to stores and restaurants is prescribed by the Rules of Veterinary Control for Slaughtered Animals and Sanitary Inspection of Meat and Meat Products.[6]

The Rules provide for pre- and post-slaughter control, detail the food safety procedures for the meat of varied types of wild animals and livestock, and regulate the work of veterinary control stations at farmers’ markets. These stations should be staffed with veterinary technicians and supervised by a doctor of veterinary medicine. Sanitary analysis of food sold on the market should be done for free. In addition to reviewing the quality of the food sold at the market, the staff of the station monitors the sanitary condition of the pavilions where meat and milk products are sold. Together with the police, they are required to ensure that no uncertified meat is sold at the market.[7] 

Subject to veterinary control are:

  • All types of meat products and subproducts from farm and wild animals,
  • Poultry,
  • Animal fat,
  • Fish and seafood products,
  • Milk and milk products,
  • Eggs,
  • Mushrooms, and
  • Honey.[8]

Sanitary stations have the right to remove foodstuffs not meeting sanitary standards from the market and destroy them. Destruction of substandard meat and fish should be conducted under the supervision of the veterinary doctor in charge of the sanitary station. If milk products do not meet the quality standards, they should be colored with black coffee or red paint and returned to the owner. 

Similar sanitary rules apply to slaughter houses, permanent stores where animal farms are selling their products, and food establishments purchasing meat and fish from individual suppliers.  

III. Specifics of Game Meat Sanitary Control

In regard to wild animals, the Rules allow the meat of moose, impalas, deer, wild sheep, wild boar, bears, hares, groundhogs, beavers, and wild birds to be used as food. Hunters must verify that game was obtained lawfully following the established hunting rules and submit proof that wild animals were killed in a territory with no known animal diseases. Inspection of game caught by individual hunters is conducted at the market sanitary stations. Game collected by hunting organizations or cooperatives is examined at the places of collection. The body of an animal without skin and internal organs is subject to examination. Game birds are examined with feathers but disemboweled. During the examination, attention should be paid to the meat’s freshness, the animal’s appearance, the nature of the wound, the level of blood remaining, and the presence of pathological changes in the animal’s anatomy. In a case where good quality and freshness are in doubt, microbiological testing needs to be conducted. Bacteriological analysis is always required for the meat of boars, bears, groundhogs, nutria, and some other wild animals.[9] 

Game is destroyed if killed wild animals appear to be ill or show signs of emaciation, meat fibers look yellowish within two days after test cooking, or meat produces an unusual smell that does not disappear after test cooking.[10]

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Prepared by Peter Roudik
Director of Legal Research
August 2020


[1] Law of the Russian Federation No. 4979-I on Veterinary Medicine and Animal Safety, Vedomosti S’ezda Narodnyh Deputatov [then the official gazette] RF 1993, No. 24, Item 857, art. 3.1, https://perma.cc/3BZP-TTZM (in Russian).

[2] Id. art. 5.

[3] Id. art. 15.

[4] Id. art. 21.

[5] Ministry of Agric. of the Russian Fed’n, Directive No. 598 of Dec. 27, 2016, https://perma.cc/Z4HV-M5SC (in Russian).

[6] Order of the USSR Ministry of Agriculture on Approval of the Rules of Veterinary Control for Slaughtered Animals and Sanitary Inspection of Meat and Meat Products, Dec. 27, 1983, available at Legalacts.ru, https://perma.cc/Y42F-98QL (in Russian).

[7] Id. § 1.

[8] Id. §§ 3, 4.

[9] Id. § 5.

[10] Id.

Last Updated: 12/31/2020