Sometimes I wonder what could possibly be going on inside the brains of agriculture researchers. Here is a good example. Ractopamine is a drug that has been approved for use in beef and pork in 2006. Based on one study where six healthy male human volunteers given a single oral dose of 40 mg of ractopamine was approved as safe for human consumption.
What is it. Technically it is a drug, that is a beta-adenoreceptor agonists. These type of drugs are used to treat asthma in people. Beta- adenoreceptors exist through the body and when needed internal hormones bind to these receptors to dilate our blood vessels, speed up the heart, open the bronchial airway and alter the metabolisms of the nutrients we or animals eat. In food animals it is used to increase the percentage of their growth that goes to meat fiber production and lower the percentage of fat in the same muscles. It does this quite well and is approved for use in feed to cattle and pigs for the last month of life before slaughter. The result is an animal with leaner muscle with better rate of growth. The opposite of feeding estrogenic hormones in the 1960’s, which increased growth rates, but did so by adding a higher percentage of fat. The meat producers are certainly responding to public interest in leaner meat.
The meat from these animals does contain very low levels of remaining drug, called residues. The FDA had no choice but to approve it because of the lessening of their powers to control such things and the drug is know to disappear from the human blood stream with 24 to 48 hours and therefore is consider to be very low risk to humans.
Studies attempting to prove safety for the longer term feeding of this drug were reviewed and the main reviewer’s comment was “The study did not comply with appropriate standards for protocol and and was therefore not considered to be suitable for the assessment of the safety of residues of ractopamine.”
Dogs on the other hand were used in studies and found to be much more sensitive to the drug. It has been used experimentally, giving at several oral doses. The most common effects were rapid heart rate and restlessness even at the lowest dose test . More problems were seen in dogs than other species so they were no longer used as a research subjects. It is banned in racing animals.
What if you have a dog with multi-drug sensitivity? Yes this drug is a potential danger and the dose must be lowered by 50% to 70% depending on how many copies of the MDR-1 gene are present in a dog.
So is meat containing residues of this drug included in the general meat supply in America. The answer is yes. I have not found statements indicating meat with or without this “feed-additive” are identified or singled out in anyway. I recommend to owners of dog who have any health problems making your own dog food to get your meat locally or use organically grown only. The same receptors are in the muscle and secretory cells of the GI tract and will only make digestive problems worse.
Further what can we do as consumers. I certainly want to know which batch of meat I am eating has this residue or does not have it, so I can choose. Send this posting and attached article to every one that you know. Lets see if we can go viral to get the subject before the consuming public, doctors and congress. I see no benefit to humans that this residue is in the meat we eat. There are no studies that this meat will will consumed contribute to lowering of cholesterol of fatty acids in the blood that are related to heart disease in humans. Which I hope is the end goal of the meat producers. The averge amount of time for the drug to disapear from blood or meat when feed to animals is< 24 hours, but the metabolites can be in the meat and blood for 4 days in pigs.
Our meat is sold worldwide and many countries are discussing whether they will accept this meat and I think the American consumer should have the same option as consumers in Japan, Taiwan or China.