“US Asks Russia to Lift Meat Ban”

Photo by Alexandr KryazhevSource: RIA Novosti
Photo by Alexandr Kryazhev
Source: RIA Novosti

RIA Novosti published a report on the US meat ban in Russia that took affect on Monday with a request by the US that the ban be lifted.  In particular, Russia is worried about the safety of the drug, ractopamine that is added to enhance leanness in meat, but constricts blood vessels and speeds up the heart of the animal.

I include two additional reports, one from Dr. Mercola and another from the Beef site.  Here’s more about the pork and beef ban from the Novosti report: [Emphasis is mine throughout]

WASHINGTON, February 11 (RIA Novosti) The US government on Monday called on Russia to lift a ban on US beef and pork imports containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine, which went into effect earlier in the day.

“The United States is very disappointed that Russia has taken action to suspend all imports of US meat, which is produced to the highest safety standards in the world,” said US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a joint statement.”

“Despite repeated US requests to discuss the safety of ractopamine, Russia has refused to engage in any constructive dialogue and instead has simply suspended US meat imports. The United States calls on Russia to restore market access for US meat and meat products immediately and to abide by its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization,” they added.

Russia says ractopamine is unsafe and that it is imposing the ban on US meat imports containing the food additive, because the US Food Safety and Inspection Service failed to guarantee that beef and pork shipments would be free of ractopamine.

The body that sets food safety standards for the United Nations, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, allows a measurable amount of ractopamine at 10 parts per billion, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standard is 50 parts per billion.

Animal rights groups have said that ractopamine, which is used to stimulate livestock growth and make meat leaner, is prohibited in about 160 countries.

The RIA Novosti report quotes Joe Schuele, the spokesman for the US Meat Export Federation on export amounts:

“Schuele said last year the US exported just over 80,000 metric tons (88,183 tons) of beef to Russia at a value of $307 million, and more than 99,000 metric tons (109,126 tons) of pork at a value of $282 million.”  [Read the full report here]

This means that the US meat industry just lost about $ 1/2 billion dollars per year from beef and pork sales to Russia.  So, is  this drug safe?

Source: Mercola.com
Source: Mercola.com

Dr. Mercola questions why the FDA considers ractopamine safe when it’s been banned in 160 countries.  Mercola writes:

A livestock drug banned in 160 nations and responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown and 10 percent mortality in pigs has been approved by the FDA.

The beta agonist ractopamine, a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis, was recruited for livestock use when researchers found the drug, used in asthma, made mice more muscular.

Ractopamine is started as the animal nears slaughter.

How does a drug marked, “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask” become “safe” in human food? With no washout period?  [Read full article here]

Amercian Meat Institute Advertising-1949Source: http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/butcher-block/
Amercian Meat Institute Advertising-1949
Source: http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/butcher-block/

The Beef Site also published an article about ractopamine in 2009, linked here.  This article is entitled, “The Codex Perspective on Ractopamine.”

More from the Beef Site report:

Ractopamine is a veterinary drug that is used to boost meat gains in pigs and cattle by driving nutrients away from fat production and into the muscle

This creates a leaner and heavier carcass which is ultimately more valuable than it would otherwise be. However, questions of ethics and food safety have been brought into question. 

These concerns have led to a divided global community. Ractopamine is currently banned in 160 countries including the EU, China and Taiwan, where punishment for its use includes fines and imprisonment. Imported meat is tested and turned away if traces of ractopamine are discovered. 

However, 24 counties support the use of ractopamine and the World Trade Organisation have supported residual trace of ractopamine in measured amounts. The US first approved ractopamine back in 1999 for use in pigs, then in 2003 it was also approved as a growth promoter in cattle. 

Ractopamine is a product of Elanco technology, a company owned by Eli Lilly. It trades under the name Optaflexx for use with cattle. For cattle fed with Optaflexx, the additional weight gain is about 14.2 lbs when fed with 200 mg per head per day

Feed efficiency is also said to improve by up to 15.9 per cent. The net increase to cattle producers who use the drug averages $8.00 per head. According to industry data, red meat yield is increased with no affect on marbling.

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