FDA Lawsuit Filed Over Meat Industry Drug

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) alleged withholding of ractopamine information from the public has prompted the filing of a lawsuit by food safety advocates. The FDA lawsuit specifically notes the use of an additive commonly utilized within the meat industry that is banned in more than 160 countries in the legal proceedings.

Ractopamine is used as a feed additive to “promote leanness in animals raised for their meat. Pharmacologically, it is a beta-adrenergic agonist.” The controversial additive is developed by Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Company, for use in food animals for growth promotion. If Natural News statistics are accurate, ractopamine is currently present in 80 percent of the cattle and pig farming operations in the United States. The FDA lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California and raises concerns about both animal and human safety if the growth drug is allowed to remain in use in the United States. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Center for Food Safety (CFS) co-filed the suit.

The growth hormone is reportedly addictive and is known as a beta-agonist. Countries which do not allow the use of the drug in animals includes the European Union, Taiwan, China and Russia. In the United States the drug is sold under the names Topmax for turkeys, Paylean for pigs, and Optaflexx for cows. While the effects of ractopamine on animals is already known, the potential impact on human beings remains a mystery. One European study found that the growth hormone caused increased heart rates and “heart-pounding sensations,” according to the Center for Food Safety. One participant in the study reportedly dropped out of the focus group due to the adverse effects on the individual’s health.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Food Safety requested documents which analyze, document or otherwise address the physiological and/or behavioral effects of ractopamine from the Food and Drug Administration. The federal agency reportedly has approximately 100,000 pages of information about the growth drug, but has denied access to more than 464 pages of materials. The lack of transparency and willingness to release vital details about the drug prompted the filing of the FDA lawsuit. The same pages were reportedly released previously in response to a journalist’s Freedom of Information Act request. Why they are now being withheld and if the reporter is willing to share the stack of information with the groups, remains unknown.

Additional ractopamine studies have reportedly found that the drug has caused enlarged hearts, rapid heartbeats, and birth defects in animals. A report in Countryside magazine referenced multiple cases of pigs becoming so weak they could no longer walk and having their hooves fall off after being given the growth hormone. A Canadian study found that monkeys given ractopamine developed daily tachycardia and rats on the growth drug developed birth defects like short limbs, protruding tongues, missing digits, cleft palate, an enlarged heart and open eyelids.

The Cornucopia Institute had this to say about ractopamine:

Two cousin drugs of ractopamine, clenbuterol and zilpaterol, cause such adrenalin effects in humans they are banned by the Olympics. Cyclist Alberto Contador failed a Tour de France anti-doping test in 2010 for levels of clenbuterol which he said he got from eating meat. Clenbuterol has been banned or restricted in meat after human toxicities.

The Talanta chemistry journal noted after the incident that the use of highly active beta-agonists as growth promoters was not appropriate because of the “potential hazard for human and animal health.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Food Safety spent more than 18 months meeting and communicating with the FDA in their attempt to garner the missing 464 pages of information about ractopamine. An excerpt from the lawsuit say the two groups requested details about the effects of the growth drug on “target animal or human liver form and function, kidney form and function, urethral and prostate effects, and tumor development.” If the growth drug used by the majority of livestock producers could cause a negative impact on any of the organs or bodily functions noted in the FDA lawsuit, the public has a right to know, the groups say.

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