Meatingplace.com reports that USDA has launched a certification program that allows companies that produce livestock, beef and pork products to market their products using “Never Fed Beta Agonists” labels.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service requires companies seeking to participate in the Never Fed Beta Agonists program to submit documentation that meet several of the agency’s specific Process Verified Program (PVP) or Quality System Assessment (QSA) program requirements, among others.

The designation covers meat from animals that were never fed beta agonists and is free of beta agonist residues.

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The growth enhancer such as ractopamine fed to hogs and zilpaterol fed to cattle have become increasingly controversial. China and Russia have long banned ractopamine. In recent months South Korea and Taiwan discovered traces of Zilmax (zilpaterol hydrochloride) in U.S. beef and in some cases expanded inspections or temporarily suspended imports of the beef.

Merck Animal Health suspended sales of Zilmax in August and launched a review over concerns that the drug may be negatively impacting a minority of the animals fed the supplement.

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