WASHINGTON – The Center for Food Safety and the Animal Legal Defense Fund petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration to immediately reduce allowable levels of ractopamine, a feed additive used in US meat production.

In the petition, the groups ask FDA to:

• Immediately review the Codex Standards for ractopamine as established in July 2012;
• Publish the petition in the Federal Register as a proposal;
• Provide opportunity for public comment on the petition; and
• Perform comprehensive scientific studies needed to characterize the health, welfare, human food safety, and environmental risks posed by the use of ractopamine in food-producing animals.

“The continued use and abuse of ractopamine in our food supply needs to be put in check,” said Elisabeth Holmes, staff attorney at Center for Food Safety. “FDA must do its job of assessing risks, questioning health impacts, and providing better solutions for our food system. American families and, potentially, the nation’s economy are at risk.”

The groups charge that ractopamine use in the pork industry has "resulted in more reports of sickened or dead pigs than any other livestock drug on the market."

“More pigs have been adversely affected by ractopamine than by any other animal drug—over 160,000, by the FDA’s own calculations,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The effects of ractopamine are cruel and completely avoidable. At a time when consumers are increasingly demanding more humane treatment of animals slaughtered for the meat industry, the United States should be at the vanguard of strong animal protections, rather than behind the international curve.”

The pork industry has vigorously defended ractopamine as a scientifically proven safe product. The US Food and Drug Administration evaluated an approved ractopamine, and the drug has been approved for use in 26 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea, according to NPPC. However, the European Union, China, Taiwan, Thailand ban imports of pork from pigs fed ractopamine. Russia recently implemented a requirement that meat be tested and certified free of ractopamine. The move came two days after the US Senate passed the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012, which would establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia.