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Why 160 Countries Say, “No to US Meats”

by Gab Billones


“You know things are bad in the US industrial food system when Russia seems to know more about it than American citizens do.”


As alarming as it may sound, this statement had posed a serious call for all consumers as to what is there to worry about.

Just a few months ago, Russia had joined the rest of the world in banning the importation of American meat. 159 countries took their stance against the meat products that are said to contain drugs which stimulate growth. This issue is about the health dangers of ractopamine that might be the cause of increasing number of Russians dying from cardiovascular disease every year. Ractopamine is famous for its weight gaining properties as well as improving the efficiency in feeding and leanness of animals fed with it.

Clearly, ractopamine has been used used by farmers since 1999 to increase their profits. It’s a risk in health that has been missed out in the equation.

As the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold”. Ractopamine is a breakthrough of science. But we have to understand the cost-benefit analysis over the harms that it can bring. Although deemed as not harmful to human, the results shown by different experiments showed adverse effects upon the health and development of the subjects, as conducted by other institutions other than Elanco.

There is also a report that angry farmers had been calling Elanco demanding for an explanation as to why a lot of their swine fed with the drug had died. The death of the swine had shown signs from a cardiovascular disease that characterizes breathing rapidly. Because of this, countries showed their active response towards caring for the health of their people. And this has triggered domino effect all over the world spanning 160 countries.

US must not shed light on these cases. More than facing the problem itself, it has to re-establish itself on the safety of food products that it imports across the globe.

In response right now,  the total concentration of the ractopamine drug induced into the animal food had been reduced to 10 parts-per-billion from the previous concentration of 50 parts-per-billion. The large decline resulted to a lower profit for the farmers but might give more confidence for the US consumers to continue patronizing the product that uses these drugs. Despite the decrease in concentration, the demand for zero-percent amount of ractopamine in the meat still pushes through by those who opposes the use of it such as the European Food Safety Authority. They reason out that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that any ractopamine level is safe for humans.

Ractopamine isn’t the only growth-stimulating drug that is of great concern. Evidence show that these drugs were administered long ago without being publicized. A lot still exists such as the antibiotics. Antibiotics had been proven as an effective drug but to use it to animals which aren’t even sick is another story. Antibiotics are added to the food of animals since it was proven a long time ago that small dosages of it a day can increase the weight gain by about 3%. Although there hasn’t been a clear explanation as to how this works as a weigh enhancer, the fact of it as an antibiotic suggests that it kills the bacteria residing at the intestines of the animals enabling them to utilize their food effectively. The danger comes to the person that ingests these meat as there is a chance that treatment for those who are infected with the bacteria immune to the certain antibiotic used to feed the animals might pose a serious problem.

Almost 80 % of the meat in the US had been treated with this drug. Due to the risk, it is a must that these meats must be inspected thoroughly by the FDA before releasing to the market.


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