For years, the US pork industry has stood by the safety and efficacy of a controversial growth drug banned in nearly 200 countries. But now, thanks to Chinese regulations, the National Pork Board is quietly encouraging American pork producers to stop using it.
Ractopamine is a beta-agonist, a drug that changes animals’ metabolism so that they develop more muscle instead of fat. The result is a meat that is both leaner and, because muscle is heavier than fat, heavier. That translates into benefits for consumers looking to cut the fat in their diets, as well as producers, because hogs can get heavier on less food.
But ractopamine is far from a dream drug. “The drug has triggered more adverse reports in pigs than any other animal drug on the market,” Helena Bottemillerreported for the Food & Environment Reporting Network in 2012. Documented effects include “hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, inability to walk and death.” The FDA said the data didn’t establish cause and effect, and the National Pork Producers Council and National Pork Board have both said the drug is safe. But health and animal-welfare advocates have been sounding the alarm for years, noting that its impacts on human health are largely unknown and that the approval from Codex, the World Health Organization’s international food safety body, is based on a single study of six men, one of whom had to drop out because he experienced negative health effects.
American farmers have to stop juicing their pigs to meet China’s food safety standards ‹ Reader — WordPress.com.