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Food safety advocates sue FDA over withholding of information about ractopamine growth drug used in meat industry

Posted: November 1, 2013 |   Comments

( Most Americans have probably never heard of ractopamine, so you may be surprised to learn that it is used in 80 percent of US pig and cattle farming operations. Ractopamine is a growth additive drug, known as a beta-agonist, that is widely banned in other countries, but in the US, it is marketed as Paylean for pigs, Optaflexx for cattle and Topmax for turkeys.

The effects that ractopamine has on animals is already known, but its effects on humans are still a mystery. A European study in which one participant dropped out due to adverse effects found that " ractopamine causes elevated heart rates and heart-pounding sensations in humans," the Center for Food Safety (CFS) said. Other studies have shown that the drug causes rapid heart beat, birth defects and enlarged hearts in animals. Countryside magazine has reported cases of pigs being too weak to walk and their hooves falling off after being given ractopamine.

Being understandably concerned with these disturbing reports, the CFS and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) have requested information "documenting, analyzing, or otherwise discussing the physiological, psychological, and/or behavioral effects" of ractopamine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has around 100,000 pages on the drug, but they have refused to produce more than 464 pages that have already been previously released. Distraught over the administration's illegal withholding and concealment of vital public health and safety information, the CFS and ALDF have decided to sue the FDA over the matter.

Ractopamine is banned in the EU, Russia, China, Taiwan and many other countries that actually care about their citizens' health. This drug's continued use closes American meat producers out of those foreign markets and likely puts consumers in danger. Hopefully, the CFS and ALDF will succeed in their fight, and the American justice system will force the FDA to release information about ractopamine, protect consumers and actually do its job instead of idly and flagrantly wasting our tax dollars and our time.

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