Petition to Food & Drug Administration to Regulate Ractopamine Use

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a petition with the FDA calling for the immediate reduction in the allowable levels of ractopamine in animal feed.


December 20, 2012

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In 2012, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling for the immediate reduction in the allowable levels of ractopamine, the controversial animal feed additive widely used in industrial factory farms that raises significant food safety and animal welfare concerns for the U.S. meat industry.

The petition, filed with the Center for Food Safety, also urged the FDA to conduct comprehensive studies on the long-term effects of human consumption, immediate health impact on animals, and a thorough review of international standards.

Ractopamine is used to accelerate weight gain and promote feed efficiency and leanness in animals raised for meat. In 2000, the FDA ruled that ractopamine was safe and approved it for use in feed for pigs; the agency later approved it for cattle and turkeys.

As with the vast majority of animal drugs used in the U.S. industrial meat system, the FDA’s approval for ractopamine relied primarily on safety studies conducted by the drug-maker, Elanco. A review of available evidence collected from FDA, the European Food Safety Authority, academic researchers, and even industry itself calls FDA’s determination of the drug’s safety into question.

Based on available evidence, many countries have taken a cautionary approach to the use of ractopamine in their national food systems. Currently, approximately 160 countries ban or restrict ractopamine, including all the nations of the European Union, China, Taiwan, and even Russia.

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