The European Union’s (EU) Council of Ministers for agriculture has upheld a ban on EU meat producers using the growth-promoting drug ractopamine and on the import of meat from cattle treated with it.
This ban has overridden a decision by the UN’s global food standards body the Codex Alimentarius Commission to allow its use under strict limits. A Council communiqué said a clear message needed to be sent to meat traders, given there was a risk the new standard fixed by the Codex could be considered as “a de facto authorisation of ractopamine”, leading some countries to raise questions about EU policy. The 16-year-old ban would therefore stay.
Liz Murphy, director of the International Meat Trade Association, said Brazilian producers, who are at the centre of the ractopamine row, had not yet introduced the substance on the beef side. “It’s not being sold commercially in the beef sector at the moment, because they (the Brazilians) promised the Commission they would first get an agreed control and split system in Brazil to ensure the product coming into the EU was not coming from cattle treated with ractopamine,” she told GlobalMeatNews.com.
Brazilian beef exports to the EU have been reduced in recent years, because of European controls over Brazil foot-and-mouth disease concerns, but Murphy added: “I’d hope this latest move is not going to have an impact on the availability of supplies to the EU, because already farmers are having to comply with special requirements for the EU.”
Murphy said that looking beyond the ractopamine issue, Europe needed to consider the difficulties it was imposing on suppliers: “I do have a general concern about the EU having more and more different conditions added to the people who supply it, and we may be beginning to paint ourselves into a corner,” she said.