UN food safety body sets limits on veterinary growth promoting drug

Codex Alimentarius Commission adopts maximum residue levels

6 July 2012, Rome - The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United Nations food standards body, has agreed on a set of residue limits for the veterinary drug ractopamine in animal tissues. Ractopamine is a growth promoter, it also keeps pigs lean. 

Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted maximum residue limits for the amount of the drug allowed in the tissues of pigs and cattle.  The decision was made after a rigorous process of scientific assessment to ascertain that the proposed levels of residues have no impact on human health.  This assessment was carried out by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, a group of independent experts convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)  and the World Health Organization (WHO) that provides scientific support to Codex.  The Codex Alimentarius Commission reached a decision through a vote, carried out in accordance with the Commission's rules and procedures. The limits were approved with 69 votes for, 67 against, and seven abstentions.

The ractopamine limits set by the Commission are 10 micrograms per kilogram of pig or cattle muscle, 40 micrograms per kilogram in liver and 90 micrograms per kilogram of the animals' kidneys.


The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint programme of  FAO and WHO, sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide and ensure fair practices in food trade. Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade. The 49-year-old Codex Alimentarius Commission, which concludes tomorrow (July 7), is attended by 600 delegates representing  Member States, the European Union as well as a large number of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

Photo: ©FAO/Kay Pratt
Ractopamine is used to keep pigs lean