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More Scientific Data on Ractopamine Needed

06 March 2012

TAIWAN - More scientific data is required to pin down the exact health impacts of ractopamine, a leanness enhancer added to cattle and swine feed, according to the Council of Agriculture (COA).

Food safety and medical specialists on a government task force reached this conclusion following five hours of heated discussion, reports the Taiwan Today.

The interministerial meeting, the third of its kind in four weeks, came amid intense pressure from Washington for Taiwan to allow entry of US beef containing the beta-agonist. In contrast to the two previous closed-door meetings, it was broadcast in real time.

The meeting was chaired by Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji and attended by a dozen government officials and experts from various fields, including food and animal science, biology, psychology, toxicology and veterinary science.

The panel concluded that the COA should ask the US Food and Drug Administration to provide more thorough epidemiology reports on the possible adverse effects of ractopamine on livestock.

Citing a review of US FDA records, Su Wei-shuo, a specialist in psychiatry, said more than 170,000 pigs fed ractopamine were found to suffer from hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, inability to walk and death. The FDA, however, said the records came from a self-report system and have not been confirmed by scientific review. Thus they do not establish that the drug caused these effects, it added.

“We need more details in order to establish the connection between the symptoms and the leanness enhancer,” Mr Wei-shuo said.

Ractopamine is currently allowed as a growth promoter to increase lean muscle mass in pigs and cattle in 27 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea and the US, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, while it is prohibited in the European Union, mainland China and Taiwan.

A fourth committee meeting will soon be organised to discuss unresolved issues regarding the safety of US beef, the COA noted.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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