Q1. What is ractopamine?
Ractopamine is a type of beta receptor hormone, which we are more familiar with is commonly known as “clenbuterol”, which is a sympathetic nerve stimulant. It was originally developed as a drug for the treatment of human asthma, but it failed to pass clinical trials. Later, it was used in livestock and poultry feeding feed. With only using a little bit, the protein can significantly increase and the production of fat can be reduced, especially for pigs. If a pig weighs 90 pounds, then only 18.5 grams of ractopamine needs to be added to 1 ton of feed, which can increase protein production by 24% and reduce fat by 34%.
Q2. Is it save to eat pork with Ractopamine？
In fact, as early as 2012, Taiwan has already opened the import of American cattle that also eat ractopamine feed. The livestock that consumes ractopamine have been approved for consumption in the United States since 1999, and there has been no relevant case of disease. In 2012, it passed the internationally prescribed tolerance standards. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report, the human body metabolizes ingested ractopamine within 24 hours. Of course, some doctors pointed out that if overdose, it may still cause side effects such as palpitations, nausea, dizziness, tremor, blood pressure and other side effects.
About the excess, according to the FDA report, taking the standard human weight of 60 kg as an example, eating 10 catties of pork or 221 ounces of steak that is, a 6 kg , per day for 5 to 10 years, will cause the excess. On the other hand, viscera contains higher content of ractopamine. For example, pig liver and pig kidney are only allowed to eat 1.5 kg and 0.67 kg. However, because Taiwanese do not have the habit of eating frozen offal, there is no imported offal in Taiwan.
Q3. How do I know if I have bought the pork with Ractopamine when I eat or buy the food?
The government has now required all supermarkets, stores, traditional vegetable markets, and various restaurant channels to indicate the origin of pork, whether it is prototype meat before processing or after processing. All kinds of meals must comply with this requirement. If the operator fails to label according to the regulations, it can impose a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$3,000,000 in accordance with Food Safety Law. If the label is false, it will be punished by a penalty of NT$40,000 to NT$4,000,000 fines. At present, there are two styles of Taiwanese pig labels, which are issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Council of Agriculture. Only stores that have passed various examines can download and use them from the official website.
Q4. Will opening up the import of pork with Ractopamine make Taiwan pork more expensive?
Taiwan’s annual pork consumption is 900,000 tons, of which 91% are Taiwanese pork. According to a report by the Welfare and the Council of Agriculture, only 13.1% of the imported pork is imported from the United States. So the impact on the domestic market is limited. However, due to the recent rise in food safety awareness among Taiwanese people, when the population requires stores to use domestic pork, some stores that originally use imported pork without Ractopamine will also make changes for this. It is possible to have a partial impact on the market.