Ractopamine in Pork: What Is It?

What is ractopamine?

Ractopamine is a beta-agonist, a class of agents acting in an opposite way to beta-blockers widely used in blood pressure medication.

Ractopamine is not considered safe for humans and is not an approved drug for humans. It is approved by the FDA for use in animals.

Why is ractopamine fed to pigs?

Ractopamine is a drug administered to pigs, usually as a feed additive, to increase the amount of lean meat or fat (depending on dosage). It’s typically fed to pigs in the weeks just before slaughter.

Ractopamine side effects for animals

Pigs fed with ractopamine suffer from extreme fatigue, trembling, mobility difficulties, hoof problems and death.

Countries that have banned ractopamine

E.U., China, Russia, Malaysia and Taiwan are among over 100 countries that have banned the use of ractopamine in meat animals.

Some people consider this a form of protectionism against much cheaper meat from US and Canada but the official explanation is the uncertainty about the potential deleterious health effects from consuming meat from animals fed ractopamine.

Is ractopamine used on other meat animals?

Yes. It is approved by the FDA for use on turkeys and cows.

Want to learn more about buying healthy meat?

Check out our Ethical Foods Meat Buying Guide

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