Proving Ractopamine is not in Canadian Pork

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

In June 2019, it was reported that an additive called Ractopamine was found in pork associated with Canadian producers exporting to China.   China bans this additive as do 160 countries. Ractopamine Hydrochloride is used to enhance the muscle to fat ratio which can result in more profitable marketing conditions.

Global News reported: 

“In Canada, ractopamine can be used on pork, cattle and turkeys. Animals that take the drug grow larger and leaner,” and require less feed.  The Canadian Pork Council indicates the presences of Ractopamine is minimal; because, “virtually all Canadian pork producers do not feed ractopamine to their pigs.”  

So what controls are in place to accurately swear Ractopamine is not present in Canadian food animals when such a declaration is made?  One example is that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)  says on their website they “are responsible for certifying that pork products exported from Canada originate from pigs that have never been fed and/or exposed to ractopamine hydrochloride.” 

The CFIA also indicates “although ractopamine is approved for use in specific livestock feeds manufactured in Canada, some trading partners are requesting foods of animal origin exported from Canada be certified as originating from animals that have never been treated with ractopamine.”

New protocols have been rolled out for Canadian feed facilities to certify as Ractopamine free.  The CFIA has a cleaning protocol in place for such feed facilities to certify that no adulteration of ractopamine can occur when not intended; yet, satisfying these new protocols is not an easy undertaking.

The conclusion is that verification is an important requirement to back up declarations and certifications that are made that Ractopamine is not present in Canadian food animals.

Brown’s Biosecure has partnered with Charm Sciences to raise awareness in Canada about a proactive/preventative management tool for segregation and processing of the pigs based on market needs. A new diagnostic tool runs the Ractopamine test ante-mortem (pre-slaughter) that will allow the producers to predict quality and allow them to direct where product is destined (domestic or global markets). 

As discussed, Ractopamine is administered in feed. If the feed is not clean or the feed mill doesn’t have control of the Ractopamine, then the animals won’t achieve withdrawal and contamination can be found in the meat. 

The recommendation is to verify declarations and certifications made in the supply chain.  The science is available and outweighs best effort attempts at control.  The Charm Science Ractopamine Test is an immunoreceptor assay utilizing ROSA® (Rapid One Step Assay) lateral flow technology. Ractopamine interacts with a test strips, and the colour intensity in the test and control zones are read visually or measured by the ROSA Reader or Charm EZ® unit.  The Charm Ractopamine Test detects Ractopamine in saliva extracted from chewing ropes. The test is designed for use as a hog rearing pen screening tool. Any positive samples may require additional testing of individual animals associated with the pooled saliva sample extracted from the rope.

We recommend adoption of the Charm Science Ractopamine test to assure trading partners and customers that evidence-backed verification is part of the quality assurance of food animal marketing.   

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