Russia’s review of ractopamine may reopen door to pork exports

BANFF, Alta. — Russia is evaluating ractopamine, which is instilling hope among product manufacturers that it will soon be approved and exports can resume.

“Russia is fully engaged. They are working on their own safety assessment,” said Stephane Beaudoin of Elanco Animal Health at the Canadian Meat Council annual meeting held in Banff, May 29-30.

Elanco did not seek approval in Russia or China when the product, sold under the name Paylean to increase muscle gain for pigs, was first introduced.

Since Russia said last December it would no longer buy pork from pigs fed ractopamine, officials have been talking with the company to work through human food safety standards.

Beaudoin does not expect a quick regulation change in China.

“Over the last five years there have been a lot of free trade agreements going on, and the more you get rid of the barriers, the more (other countries) will try to protect their own markets,” he said.

China and Russia are attractive markets and processors may seek ractopamine-free products to exploit opportunities.

However, a study from the George Morris Centre earlier this year said whatever premium might be gained would soon disappear if enough suppliers did the same.

The U.S. approved ractopamine use as a feed additive in 2000 and Canada accepted it in 2006.

It increases carcass leanness, dressing percentages and im-proves feed efficiency and rate of gain. It is approved for use in 26 countries.

Codex Alimentarius, a unit of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, has an approved maximum residue limit.

The George Morris Centre research paper said its use can increase producers’ returns by about $2-$3 per pig.

It also allows more pork to be produced from fewer pigs which is cited as a positive environmental effect. Less feed and drinking water are required, and less manure and urine are produced.

The product is also approved for use in cattle and is sold as Optaflexx.

It is also approved for use in turkeys but there has not been much acceptance in that industry.

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