“The research showed the use of products containing ractopamine can lead to hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and, as such, a reduction in life expectancy in Russian consumers [if such products were allowed to enter the market],” said the report.
Rospotrebnadzor did not disclose full details of the study, but it is estimated that the research for the report took place during the past two years, since Russian veterinary specialists first raised the ractopamine issue.
Since Russia joined the World Trade Organization, the country’s veterinary specialists have been working on harmonising Russian and international requirements on the safety and quality of food products. Several agencies are still considering the use of veterinary drugs in animal husbandry, such as beta-agonists that stimulate the growth of cattle, pigs and poultry.
“Ractopamine may cause tachycardia and other cardiac diseases, as well as causing hand tremors, headaches, muscle spasms and increased blood pressure. Independent studies conducted previously by a number of Russian institutes demonstrated that ractopamine is capable of increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke by around one-and-a-half times, as well as leading to a sustained deterioration in the human cardiovascular system,” said Galina Zakharova, president of the Association of Cardiologists of Voronezh.
Following the results of this study, Russia is expected to maintain its ban on the supply and turnover of meat products using ractopamine. According to Russian physicians, constant consumption of meat with even “safe” levels of the growth promoter could reduce projected life expectancy by seven to nine years.
However, Russian veterinary experts noted that, in 2000 in the US, ractopamine was recognised as safe for health and was approved for use in feed for cattle, pigs and turkeys, as a growth promoter in animal husbandry. It was also approved for use in veterinary medicine in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries, where a maximum allowable level of ractopamine in meat products has been set.