The Codex Alimentarius Commission – the joint food standards program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has adopted global food safety standards for ractopamine hydrochloride.

Elanco Animal Health markets two brands of ractopamine hydrochloride – Paylean for swine and Optaflexx for cattle.

The commission’s action, which becomes final on July 7, adopts an Acceptable Daily Intake and Maximum Residue Levels for pig and cattle muscle, fat, liver and kidney. The human safety of meat products derived from pigs and cattle fed ractopamine had been confirmed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives in 2004, 2006 and 2010 and by 27 regulatory authorities from around the world.

“These standards provide an international food safety reference point that helps assure consumers that their food is safe,” reports Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco. “Codex standards for ractopamine are a significant step toward enabling sustainable meat production, fulfilling the increased demand for animal protein and therefore addressing worldwide hunger.

“Elanco is very pleased with the Codex Commission’s decision of adopting global food safety standards for ractopamine for muscle, fat, liver and kidney,” he says.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) praised the United Nations body for finally approving an international standard for a safe and approved feed ingredient. "NPPC is pleased that the Codex commission finally approved this scientifically proven safe product," says NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, NC. "The commission, as it should, fulfilled its mandate to base standards and guidelines on science." Ractopamine has been approved for use in 26 countries but has been opposed for non-scientific reasons by the European Union, Russia, China, Taiwan and Thailand.

"U.S. pork producers are very disappointed with the continued opposition to ractopamine for reasons other than scientific ones, particularly Russia," Hunt says. "That country is set to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) this year, and the WTO requires member countries to abide by international trade standards. Given Russia's intransigence on ractopamine, we're concerned about its commitment to WTO principles."

Ractopamine is a feed ingredient that directs nutrients from fat to lean protein, helping increase the yield of lean meat from cattle and swine. In swine, Paylean improves carcass leanness, increases average daily gain and improves feed efficiency. Its use yields about 5 lb. of additional lean pork and improves feed efficiency by 10%.

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