Ractopamine is safe for use in Brazilian pork

Jan 24, 2013

Animal scientists in Brazil have found that a small dose of the feed additive ractopamine can boost pork production without changing how pork looks or tastes.

In the latest issue of the , researchers report that a 5 mg/kg dose of ractopamine increased muscle mass and feed efficiency, and had no noticeable effect on pork marbling, fat content, toughness or color. The researchers came to this conclusion by testing pork from 340 pigs raised under commercial conditions.

"We found that if [pork producers] use 5 mg/kg of ractopamine in the finishing diet of swine that should result in no detrimental effects on fresh pork quality and cooked pork palatability," said Natália Bortoleto Athayde, an animal scientist at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil.

Ractopamine is a common feed additive in Brazilian and U.S. pork production. The additive increases the size of by increasing in muscle cells. Many use ractopamine because it allows pigs to grow larger with less feed.

However, some scientists have reported reduced pork quality with higher doses of ractopamine. To test this finding, Athayde and other researchers split a herd of pigs into three groups and gave them 0, 5 or 10 mg/kg of ractopamine during the last 28 days before slaughter. They then slaughtered the pigs and tested the pork pH, temperature, color, drip loss, marbling, intramuscular fat, cooking loss and tenderness. According to Athayde, analyzing meat color is important because meat color changes can be a sign of stress in an animal.

The researchers found that though 5 mg/kg had no noticeable effects, pork from the 10 mg/kg pigs was lighter and less tender than pork from control group . Athayde said this confirms previous studies showing that 5 mg/kg is an appropriate dose in Brazilian commercial pork production.

"Pork is the most consumed in the world, and Brazil is currently the fourth largest producer of this meat," said Athayde. "We export about 15 percent of we produce and we believe it is extremely important to know the quality of the meat that we offer to the world."

Athayde recommends further studies of how ractopamine affects animal behavior, consumer health and the environment.

Explore further: A better understanding of piglet immune response to intestinal parasites

More information: This paper is titled "Meat quality of swine supplemented with ractopamine under commercial conditions."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chilling methods could change meat tenderness

Aug 31, 2012

In a recent paper published in the Journal of Animal Science, meat scientists report that a method called blast chilling could affect pork tenderness. Researchers at the USDA-ARS, Roman L. Hruska US Meat Animal Research Center ...

Pork belly cuts better for environment than beef steak

Mar 18, 2010

Milk, eggs, pork and chicken are friendlier for the environment than beef. This is the conclusion after examining sixteen life cycle assessment (LCA) studies of animal products. However, the margins for the various measurements ...

USDA confirms H1N1 in Minnesota pigs

Oct 19, 2009

(AP) -- At least one pig from Minnesota has tested positive for the H1N1 virus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday, the first case of a pig contracting the virus in the United States.

Commercial pigs in Ind. test positive for H1N1

Nov 04, 2009

(AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that pigs in a commercial herd in Indiana have tested positive for swine flu, making it the first time the virus has been found in such hogs.

Recommended for you

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

55 minutes ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Environmental pollutants make worms susceptible to cold

5 hours ago

Some pollutants are more harmful in a cold climate than in a hot, because they affect the temperature sensitivity of certain organisms. Now researchers from Danish universities have demonstrated how this ...

Research helps steer mites from bees

7 hours ago

A Simon Fraser University chemistry professor has found a way to sway mites from their damaging effects on bees that care and feed the all-important queen bee.

User comments : 0