Meat war: Russia restricts US meat imports, because of ractopamine

Meat imports to Russia from producers using ractopamine must be tested and certified free of the feed additive, the Russian veterinary regulator said.

United States exports more than $ 500 million a year (370 million Euros) worth of beef and pork to Russia, and this Russian move could give a great advantage to Chinese and European Union meat producers, where ractopamine is banned.

Analysts said the Russian move was linked to the U.S. Senate’s passage of the “Magnitsky Act” as part of a broad trade bill, which drew an angry response from Russia where officials called it “absurd.”

Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief health inspector and head of the state consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, denied the requirement of testing and certifying meat imports for ractopamine was retaliatory.

“In Russia, (ractopamine) is not included in the register of products approved for use,” Onishchenko told.

We can only regret that American Federation analysts on meat exports lacked even a tiny bit of imagination to classify the 27 countries of the European Union, China and all other 167 countries that have banned the use of this product as opponents of the ‘Magnitsky Act’ adopted by the U.S. Senate.”

The ban could start from on February 11th 2013.

Ractopamine is used as a feed additive to make meat leaner, but nearly 160 countries in the world, such as China and EU Member States have banned its use. The United State has agreed on acceptable levels of the drug (5–20 mg/kg).

Citing EU research data, beta-agonists cause meat to have a higher water content, which effectively penalizes consumers, who for pay more per unit of weight.

Research results also showed that ractopamine use increases human anxiety, adding that animals treated with the drug are more active, more difficult to handle and find it harder to deal with adverse situations.

The EFSA does not accept the maximum daily intake level of 0.1 micrograms per kilogram proposed by the UN’s Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and insists that the calculations should take account of discomfort caused to humans, although the EFSA has yet to determine a safe intake level for humans or how to quantify human discomfort.

Here you can find EFSA safety evaluation on ractopamine.

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