Codex Commission Moves Ahead With Ractopamine Standards

1/19/2013 7:00 AM
By National Cattlemen's Beef Association

WASHINGTON — The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) was present in Rome on July 5 when Codex’s participating member countries expressed their views on the safety of ractopamine and voted in favor of the adoption of standards for maximum residue levels (MRL) for the growth-promoting feed additive.

According to Kathy Simmons, NCBA’s chief veterinarian, this was a victory for U.S. cattlemen and women.

"It is paramount that science is the foundation for all decisions made in the international community,” she said. “The Codex Commission proved they are willing to trust science and make decisions based on facts rather than politics."

Simmons said this clears the way for moving ahead on international standards for ractopamine.

“We commend the commission for all their work," she said.

Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization in 1963, the Codex Commission sets international food standards and codes of practice that contribute to the safety of food trade.

The issue of ractopamine has historically caused unnecessary trade disruptions, according to Simmons. She said ractopamine is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a safe feed additive, but the lack of international MRL standards caused confusion.

NCBA is hopeful the Codex decision will bring science back to the forefront of policies set by U.S. trading partners.

"Standards not based on science create an unnecessarily volatile trading environment for U.S. exporters who are reluctant to ship products to countries with nonscience-based testing regimes,” she said. “Hopefully, the Codex decision to move forward with science-based standards will translate into a shift in trade policy for other countries to adopt science-based safety standards."

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