Russia Bans US Meat Imports Due to Dangerous Drug Residue
December 24, 2012
You know things are bad in the US industrial food system when Russia seems to know more about it than American citizens do.
Last week, Russia announced that it intends to ban US imports of beef and pork unless these foods can be certified free of the livestock drug ractopamine.
Yeah, that’s what I thought when I first learned about Russia’s recent move.
Ractopamine was approved for use in pigs in 1999, cattle in 2003 and turkeys in 2009 – all largely unbeknownst to the public.
Ractopamine is a growth promoting drug which increases muscle mass by actively slowing protein degradation. Unlike other veterinary drugs which are withdrawn prior to slaughter, ractopamine is started and never withdrawn in the animal’s final days. It is given to beef cattle during their last 4-6 weeks, pigs in their last 4 weeks, and turkeys for their last 1-2 weeks.
Given that these animals are actively being given ractopamine immediately prior to slaughter and have been receiving the drug for some weeks preceding, there can be no doubt that a residue of the drug remains in the animal’s meat when it finally hits supermarket shelves.
Ok, so there’s some ractopamine left in the conventional meat of the 45% of pigs, 30% of feedlot cattle and an unknown number of turkeys.
What’s so bad about this drug anyway? (Learn more)