Ractopamine was first developed as a treatment for asthma but was never approved according to Consumer Reports. Research later uncovered that when added to animal feed prior to slaughter, ractopamine could increase meat leanness or weight. However, ractopamine is currently banned or resisted in more than 160 nations, including Russia and all EU countries.
Ractopamine belongs to a class of drugs known as beta-agonists. These drugs mimic the effects of adrenaline, resulting in increased protein synthesis in muscle tissue during the administration period. When looking at the long-term effects of the therapeutic use of beta-agonists, side effects include a fast heart rate, widening of blood vessels, skeletal muscle tremor, nervousness, metabolic disturbances, high blood sugar and lower-than-normal potassium levels in the blood. It is for this reason that all beta-agonists are banned in Europe for use in livestock and for improving athletic performance according to EU council directive 96/22/EC.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a ‘Never Fed Beta Agonists’ programme for companies that produce livestock and beef and pork products. Companies are to meet the requirements of the programme if they are to supply pork or beef to customers that require verification of marketing claims that meat is derived from animals that are free of beta agonist residues.
With more than 35 years’ experience within the diagnostics industry, Randox Food Diagnostics provide some of the highest quality products, customer services and technical support to ensure the needs of its global customer base are met. The company’s dedicated research and development (R&D) team have therefore created a USDA-approved enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit for the detection of ractopamine residues. Offering excellent limits of detection, the firm’s accurate and reliable ractopamine test is applicable to urine and tissue sample types.
To ensure compliance with regulations, Randox Food Diagnostics also provide the Growth Promoter Multiple Matrix Array. Utilising its patented Biochip Array Technology, the Growth Promoter Multiple Matrix Array detects for several growth promoters in meat, including ractopamine.