July 5, 2012 Codex approves Maximum Residue Standards for Ractopamine
Member countries of the Codex Alimentarius Commission voted today 69-67 in favor of adopting standards for maximum residue levels for ractopamine hydrochloride (Paylean for swine and Optaflexx for cattle) during its 35th session in Rome.
Although ractopamine is recognized by the FDA as a safe feed additive, the lack of international MRL standards have caused confusion. It was the fifth time the U.N. body considered setting a maximum residue limit for ractopamine.
“It is paramount that science is the foundation for all decisions made in the international community. Today, the Codex commission proved they are willing to trust science and make decisions based on facts rather than politics,” Kathy Simmons, chief veterinarian for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in a news release. She is in Rome for the Codex meeting. “We are very pleased that we can move ahead on adopting international standards for ractopamine.”
The commission’ report is expected to be finalized Saturday.
“Standards not based on science create an unnecessarily volatile trading environment for U.S. exporters who are reluctant to ship products to countries with non-science based testing regimes,” Simmons added.
The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has repeatedly confirmed the human safety of pork and beef products resulting from the use of ractopamine in 2004, 2006 and 2010. The United States is one of 26 countries that have approved its use; the European Union, China and Taiwan, among other countries, ban its use or its presence in imported meat.
“NPPC is pleased that the Codex commission finally approved this scientifically proven safe product,” said National Pork Producers Council President R.C. Hunt in a news release. “The commission, as it should, fulfilled its mandate to base standards and guidelines on science.”
Hunt went on to say, however, “U.S. pork producers are very disappointed with the continued opposition to ractopamine for reasons other than scientific ones from several countries, particularly Russia. That country is set to join the World Trade Organization this year, and the WTO requires member countries to abide by international trade standards. Given Russia’s intransigence on ractopamine, we’re concerned about its commitment to WTO principles.”
Meanwhile, Taiwanese officials are maintaining that the decision won’t change Taiwan’s policy to conditionally lift the ban on U.S. beef imports with the additive, according to Focus Taiwan.
Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization in 1963, the Codex sets international food standards and codes of practice that contribute to the safety of food trade. Approximately 180 countries are members of the Codex.