The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday provided information it said proved that US beef is safe for consumption in response to what it called “misinformation” regarding the products that have been widely circulated recently.
Spokesperson Sheila Paskman said in a press statement that the AIT has been “very concerned about the extensive misinformation.”
Therefore, the AIT provided the documents “to give the straightforward facts about US beef,” Paskman said.
“We hope you will read this and understand the basis for our stance on the safety of US beef,” she said.
Recent press reports about health problems in animals that are fed ractopamine misrepresented the data from these studies and failed to make any legitimate link to health risks in humans, the AIT said.
Since ractopamine was approved for pigs in 1999 and for cattle in 2003, there have been billions of kilos of meat from animals fed with ractopamine consumed by hundreds of millions of people during that period, it said.
“There have been no reports of any human illness linked to the consumption of beef or pork from animals that have been fed ractopamine,” it said.
Major beef-producing or importing countries, including Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and many others, have also determined that meat from animals that are fed ractopamine is safe for human consumption, the statement said.
There have been extensive scientific studies that reviewed the use of ractopamine as a feed ingredient and considered its impact on human health in terms of toxicity, reproductive abnormalities, carcinogenicity and other factors, including the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), which operates under the Food and Agriculture Organization and the WHO, along with 27 countries that had conducted government-directed risk assessments, the AIT said.
Taiwan has also conducted its own risk assessment and in 2007 notified the WTO of its intention to establish maximum residue levels (MRL) for ractopamine in beef and pork.
“Taiwan’s own testing of imported meat products confirmed that ractopamine residues in US beef fell well within the MRLs recommended by JECFA, which are the same draft MRLs that Taiwan notified to the WTO in 2007,” it said.
In response to critiques of the JECFA assessment that said that a single human study with only six test subjects was used to support the committee’s MRL recommendations for ractopamine, the AIT said that “in fact, JECFA conducted multiple reviews of the use of ractopamine in animals and based its recommendations on more than 20 animal studies, including long-term studies with primates, in addition to the human study.”
“It would be highly unusual to take the extra step of testing humans with drugs that are intended for use in animals, and therefore the sample size for the human study was limited for ethical reasons. The human study was intended only to verify that humans react to ractopamine in a way similar to primates, so that the levels determined to be safe for primates could help determine safe levels for humans,” the AIT said.
JECFA’s findings were sufficient to demonstrate the safety of ractopamine, but due to opposition from some members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), the international regulatory body for food safety, primarily the EU and China, the CAC could not reach a consensus, the AIT said.