U.S. farmers and ranchers are committed to working with veterinarians to make the right decisions about the care of their animals and the food they produce. That’s why we’re constantly researching and developing new ways to care for our animals. We’ve made improvements to the pigs’ environment, such as better air circulation or temperature controls, so we can keep them healthier year-round.
Ractopamine is used as part of a healthy, balanced diet for growing pigs. It works in the same way that human health supplements do. It is given to animals as part of their healthy, naturally balanced diet and helps pigs make the most of the food they eat by converting nutrients from fat to lean muscle. It is even water-soluble, meaning it can’t be stored in the body for any length of time and is eliminated quickly.
We want you to know ractopamine is extensively tested and monitored. Rigorous, scientific reviews of ractopamine have led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United Nations (Codex) food safety body to approve the use in pigs. In fact, 28 regulatory authorities globally have affirmed the human food safety of meat from animals fed ractopamine. FDA approval requires each new product be substantiated by an average of 75 studies. If it fails even one of these tests, it will not be approved. After approval, it is constantly monitored for negative side effects in humans or animals.
Consumers today are rightly asking more questions about where their food comes from. It’s our responsibility to answer those questions, especially when it comes to practices on the farm that consumers may be unfamiliar with.
Q: What is ractopamine?
A: Ractopamine is a feed additive used by farmers and ranchers in more than two dozen countries across the developed world, including the United States, Canada and Australia.
Ractopamine is a synthetic organic compound that belongs to a class of compounds called phenethanolamines and is a beta-agonist. Ractopamine is not a genetically modified organism and it is not manufactured by using genetically modified organisms. Ractopamine is not an antibiotic.
Q: Why is it used?
A: Ractopamine is used as part of a healthy, balanced diet for growing pigs. Ractopamine helps pigs make the most of the food they eat by promoting the conversion of dietary nutrients into lean muscle, which helps produce a leaner meat product.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Rigorous, scientific reviews of ractopamine have led the FDA and the United Nations (Codex) food safety body to approve the use in pigs. In fact, 28 regulatory authorities globally have affirmed the human food safety of meat from animals fed ractopamine. In more than a decade of use, there are no documented adverse human health reports from eating meat from animals fed ractopamine.
Q: How often is ractopamine used?
A: It is used in targeted ways, in very low doses and at particular times in an animal’s life. It is widely used by farmers and ranchers in the United States, Canada, Australia and many other countries across the developed world.
Q: Is there a global standard for the use of ractopamine?
A: In July 2012, the international food standards body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, developed in part by the World Health Organization, confirmed the safety of ractopamine by establishing a maximum residue limit. The Codex decision provides a worldwide standard. And as more bodies study and approve ractopamine, their reviews continue to provide more confidence that it is safe, both for human consumption and for our animals.
To learn more about responsible animal agriculture, visit porkcares.org.