What’s the latest on Ractopamine? Why all the fuss and what’s being done?

First, the latest news. New USDA Program.
Recently, the USDA introduced a certification program that would allow the meat industry to market their products with the claim “Never Fed Beta Agonists.” Beta agonists are a class of drugs used as feed additives to promote lean muscle mass in livestock intended for consumption. Compounds within the Beta agonist family include Ractopamine, Clenbuterol and Salbutamol.

In the US, the FDA Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for ractopamine hydrochloride is established at 30 ppb in beef and 50 ppb in pork. The Codex Alimentarius Commission has an established MRL of 10 ppb for beef and pork muscle cuts. However, owing to concerns about its effect on human health, Russia and China have banned meat containing ractopamine and now require stringent confirmation that products are free of the banned drug.

So what does the new certification program mean for producers and exporters?
They may be able to successfully enter previously restricted countries such as Russia once again. While there has been no word from Russia regarding lifting of the US ban, the certification program may be signs of things to come.

Program Outlines Clear Guidelines to Obtain “Never Fed Beta Agonists” Claim.
The good news is that the USDA is putting together a program with clear guidelines and steps on what it will take to obtain certification and make the claim. Interested companies must go through requirements set forth by the AMS outlined here. A key component is that the testing must be performed using an AMS-approved method. To help with this, AMS also established a program outlining requirements for those laboratories interested in being AMS-approved to perform beta agonist confirmation testing.

Recently, Silliker was the first third party laboratory to receive verification approval for their beta agonist method which includes detection of ractopamine. Our methods have been found to be in conformance with the AMS testing requirements of beta agonists in meat products. Companies interested in obtaining the “Never Fed” certification can work with Mérieux NutriSciences as part of their overall program. We are also proud to say that Mérieux NutriSciences is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) to test for ractopamine in pork and beef. We are also one of the few labs contracted to perform this testing as part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s residue monitoring program.

If you are interested in learning more about beta agonists and ractopamine testing or for a free consultation, contact us now!

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