Ractopamine Deemed Safe, Yet Sparking Trade Issues

February 20, 2013 05:56 AM

Recent news that China will follow Russia's lead in demanding that imports of U.S. beef and pork will have to accompanied by certification the product contains no residue of ractopamine has raised concerns about export demand. Implication of such measures could come by March 1, advise sources. These developments have raised questions regarding why the feed additive is under scrutiny, especially since regulations are already in place from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding its use in feed and the United Nations (Codex) food safety body approves its use.

According to a "fact sheet" from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), 28 regulatory authorities globally have affirmed the human food safety of meat from animals fed ractopamine. "FDA approval requires each new product be substantiated by an average of 75 studies. If it fails even one of these tests, it will not be approved. After approval, it is constantly monitored for negative side effects in humans or animals," it states.

Link to full "fact sheet" from NPPC.

Ractopamine, a feed ingredient that helps increase the animals' ability to efficiently turn what they eat into lean muscle rather than fat, has been shown to be absorbed, distributed and eliminated rapidly in pigs, cattle, laboratory animals and primates. Additionally, the American Institute in Taiwan says meat from animals fed ractopamine is safe for human consumption. It notes, "Ractopamine is sold under the brand name Optaflexx for use with cattle and Paylean for use with pigs."

"There have been extensive scientific studies that reviewed the use of ractopamine as a feed ingredient and considered its impact on human health in terms of toxicity, reproductive abnormalities, carcinogenicity and other factors," states the institute. "Based on these studies and government-directed risk assessments, 27 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, have determined that meat from animals fed ractopamine is safe for human consumption. The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), which operates under the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization and is comprised of scientists from around the world, also reviewed ractopamine and has recommended maximum residue levels (MRLs) for beef and pork. Countries that adopt the JECFA-recommended standards can be assured that meat from animals fed ractopamine is safe and will have no negative effects on human health."

Link to full "fact sheet" from the American Institute in Taiwain.


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