Ractopamine is fed to American livestock in order to promote lean meat. Currently, it is fed to about 60 to 80 percent of the pigs in America and as a result, there have been numerous reports of dead and sickened pigs. No other livestock drug has caused such high numbers of death and illness according to an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Since the drug was introduced, over 218,000 pigs on ractopamine have been reported to show very adverse effects. Since March 2011, the drug has caused the majority of problems in pigs even though other livestock animals are on the drug. Pigs are suffering from hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, the inability to walk, and death. These results were gathered from a FDA report that was released under a Freedom of Information Act request. Even though these disturbing things are happening to the livestock, the FDA says the data can’t determine that the drug caused these effects.
As these issues and other growing concerns over the sick animals in the nation’s food supply become headline news, California passed a law that banned the sale and slaughter of livestock unable to walk. However, that law was turned over by the Supreme Court just this week. Meat producers argued that the state can not override federal rules. The federal rules say that selling animals that are too sick or weak to walk is acceptable.
All these issues are concerning. So concerning that a picture (above) was released this week showing workers in a Taipei meat warehouse destroying six tons of ractopamine treated meat. Six tons of U.S. beef are being thrown into a furnace in this picture because Taiwan has a ban on meat treated with the drug. So, in Tawian they’re trashing this meat. In the U.S., our government says it’s ok, even if it might cause the animal to be severally sick before slaughter.
While it is being billed as a “trade issue,” it seems more alarming that our government is more concerned, once more, about selling at the lowest margin than the wellness of the people.