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FDA asked to review codex standards for ractopamine residues.

The Center for Food Safety and the Animal Legal Defense Fund have filed a citizen petition asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review the newly-adopted Codex Alimentarius standards for ractopamine residues and study their effects on human health and animal welfare.

Ractopamine is a feed additive used in the United States and several other countries to promote leanness in both hogs and cattle.

Codex last July adopted maximum residue limits for ractopamine following contentious debate and a narrow 69-67 vote by member countries, according to reporting by our sister publication, Food Chemical News. The European Union, Russia and China have vowed to continue their ractopamine bans.

In a petition filed Dec. 20, the two organizations asks FDA to either meet the Codex standards for ractopamine or set "more health- and welfare-based standards." It charges that the Codex standards "are scientifically compromised, based on unreliable and weak data, and apply study results to reach conclusions that were not part of the study's intent."

Consumers Union, which has endorsed the petition, last month reported that its product testing arm, Consumer Reports, examined 240 pork products for ractopamine and found that 20 percent tested positive for residues, but at levels well below both Codex and FDA standards.

The petition follows on the heels of a trade dispute between the United States and Russia, which in December announced new rules requiring that that U.S. pork and beef exports be certified free of the controversial feed additive.

In 2000, FDA ruled that ractopamine is safe and approved it for use in feed for pigs; the agency later approved it for cattle and turkeys. But a review of available evidence collected from FDA and the European Food Safety Authority calls these approvals into question, the petitioners argue. While studies on the potential human health effects of ractopamine are limited, EFSA data indicate that ractopamine causes elevated heart rates and heart-pounding sensations, the petitioners say.

Ractopamine also has been shown to have significant health consequences for animals, the Center for Food Safety says. Fed to an estimated 60 to 80 percent of pigs in the U.S. meat industry, ractopamine has resulted in more reports of sickened or dead pigs than any other livestock drug on the market, according to the petition.
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Title Annotation:U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 14, 2013
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