For The Week Ending Dec. 14, 2012





Russia announced late last week that any meat containing the feed additive ractopamine will be at risk of destruction or re-export because it violates Custom Union (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) regulations. Russia will now require pork imports from the United States to show documentation that the pork does not contain ractopamine residues. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, does not have a testing and certification program in place to detect ractopamine residues in pork or beef because the feed additive has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a safe product. Ractopamine improves the feed efficiency, growth rate and lean carcass percentage of live hogs and cattle. Earlier this year, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius, which sets international standards for food safety, approved a maximum residue limit (MRL) for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets. Only 41 percent of U.S. pork plants are currently eligible to export to Russia because of the imposition of non-science-based trade barriers such as zero tolerance on pathogens in raw products, a standard no country in the world can meet. A ractopamine ban would further disrupt U.S. pork sales to Russia.


Again this week no progress was made on a Farm Bill. Congressional leadership still has not decided on whether to extend the 2008 Farm Bill or to work on a new five-year agriculture blueprint. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., are trying to convince the Obama administration and congressional leaders to include the Farm Bill in the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations to avoid more than $500 billion in tax increases and more than $100 billion in automatic spending cuts that would go into effect in 2013. NPPC is carefully monitoring and researching the potential impacts of an extension and a new Farm Bill and will keep members updated on developments.


A coalition representing the U.S. meat and poultry industries, led by NPPC, submitted comments this week to the Chinese government in support of that country’s proposed pathogen testing on cooked meat and poultry but strongly recommending that China rescind a proposal to establish a zero-tolerance policy for pathogens on raw meat and poultry. Such a standard cannot realistically be achieved by any country in the world. Although good hygiene practices and microbial interventions can reduce the incidence of pathogens to extremely low levels, it is well-recognized that bacteria of public health concern, including Salmonella and Listeria, are unavoidable contaminants in the meat production process. The establishment of pathogen guidelines for all countries must be based on a scientific risk assessment or on international standards such as those set by the International Commission of Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF), which states that “the occurrence of salmonellae and other pathogens in raw meat cannot be entirely prevented.” China is one of the most valuable markets for U.S. pork exports. In 2011, the U.S. exported 375,195 metric tons of pork and pork products to China, valued at $713 million.


NPPC’s Animal Health Food Safety Policy committee this week gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss research and regulatory issues of importance to the pork industry. Staff from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service and Agricultural Research Service, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and the Food and Drug Administration, met with the committee.


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