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UN food safety body sets limits on veterinary growth promoting drug

Codex Alimentarius Commission adopts maximum residue levels

News release

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United Nations food standards body, has agreed on a set of residue limits for the veterinary drug ractopamine in animal tissues. Ractopamine is a growth promoter, it also keeps pigs lean.

The Member States of Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted maximum residue limits for the amount of the drug allowed in the tissues of pigs and cattle. The decision was made after a rigorous process of scientific assessment to ascertain that the proposed levels of residues have no impact on human health.

This assessment was carried out by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, a group of independent experts convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization / World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) that provides scientific support to Codex. The Codex Alimentarius Commission reached a decision through a vote, carried out in accordance with the Commission’s rules and procedures. The limits were approved with 69 votes for, 67 against, and seven abstentions.

The ractopamine limits set by the Commission are 10 micrograms per kilogram of pig or cattle muscle, 40 micrograms per kilogram in liver and 90 micrograms per kilogram of the animals’ kidneys.


The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint programme of FAO and WHO, sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide and ensures fair practices in food trade. Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade. The 49-year-old Codex Alimentarius Commission, which concludes tomorrow (7 July), is attended by 600 delegates representing 184 Member States plus the European Union, as well as a large number of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

For more information please contact:

Glenn Thomas
WHO, Geneva
Mobile: +41 79 509 0677