The beta agonist drug ractopamine (a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis) was recruited for livestock use when researchers found that the drug, used in asthma, made mice more muscular. This reduces the overall fat content of the meat. Ractopamine is currently used in about 45 percent of US pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys are pumped full of this drug in the days leading up to slaughter. Up to 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket, according to veterinarian Michael W. Fox.
Where it’s banned: 160 countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and Republic of China (Taiwan)
Since 1998, more than 1,700 people have been “poisoned” from eating pigs fed the drug, and ractopamine is banned from use in food animals in no less than 160 different countries due to its harmful health effects! Effective February 11, 2013, Russia issued a ban on US meat imports, slated to last until the US agrees to certify that the meat is ractopamine-free. At present, the US does not even test for the presence of this drug in meats sold. In animals, ractopamine is linked to reductions in reproductive function, increase of mastitis in dairy herds, and increased death and disability. It’s also known to affect the human cardiovascular system, and is thought to be responsible for hyperactivity, and may cause chromosomal abnormalities and behavioral changes.
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