This is basically a growth promoter fed to animals prior to their slaughter to increase lean meat. It is put into nearly 50% of pigs, 30% of cattle, and other animals such as turkeys. Up to 20% can remain in their system at the time of the slaughter. Ractopamine is known to affect the human cardiovascular system, to cause hyperactivity and behavior problems, and to create adverse musculoskeletal effects such as tremors.
According to food safety researcher Helen Bottemiller, ractopamine was originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 1999. It might surprise you to learn that this approval was based solely on research data provided by Elanco, the drug’s manufacturer. Unfortunately for Elanco, regulation in other countries is a little more robust than ours. Bottemiller reports that the scientist who led the panel studying the drug stated that “The main problem for us is that the safety of the product could not be supported with the data.”
No wonder meat containing this drug is banned in throughout Europe, Russia (Russia banned US meat imports in 2013 unless their exports are ractopamine free), China, and Taiwan.