A few days ago, Russia banned imports of U.S. pork and beef because the meats may contain the feed additive ractopamine. That’s the same additive already banned in China, Taiwan and the European Union.
Ractopamine is used to develop lean muscle in livestock… pigs that are fed the additive during the last weeks of their lives have less fat and produce an average of 10% more meat. Between 60% and 80% of the pigs in this country are given the additive.
But since it’s been in use, the drug maker (Eli Lilly) has received hundreds of reports from vets and farmers about pigs that became sick or lame because of the additive. The situation is serious enough that the Food and Drug Administration now requires the drug to carry a warning label when it’s dispensed.
Thirteen years ago, the FDA declared ractopamine safe for livestock… But is it really?
Ractopamine mimics stress hormones, making a pig’s heart beat faster and relaxing its blood vessels. Ractopamine hasn’t been proposed for human use, but somehow, I have to believe that these additives find their way into our bodies if we’re eating livestock that’s been fed the drug.
There’s something unsettling about the fact that other countries (especially China, which has a history of goosing food with illegal substances) have taken a stand on ractopamine. It makes me wonder, once again, if the FDA is looking out only for big business or us.
Thankfully, some American food companies are avoiding ractopamine altogether… like Whole Foods Markets and Chipotle Restaurants. But what about regular grocery stores where discount prices fuel what kind of meat people buy?
Mama’s always preaching about reading labels and being informed BEFORE you buy. Ractopamine in livestock is a perfect example of why.
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