Ractopamine is a drug used as a feed additive to promote leanness in animals raised for meat. It is the active ingredient in products known commercially as Paylean for swine and Optaflexx for cattle. On 6 July 2012, the Codex Alimentarius Commission approved safe limits of residual ractopamine in meat. It is however, currently banned in meats exported to Mainland China, Malaysia, and Russia.
From the article:
“Following several positive tests in Ontario, the Ontario Racing Commission undertook an investigation that found ractopamine in batches of horse feed. Similar findings were heard from Alberta and Quebec. Upon receipt of this information, CPMA initiated discussions with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) wherein it was determined that the CFIA has set allowable limits of ractopamine to be present in feed. However, even if horse feed passes these allowable limit tests, the feed may contain enough ractopamine to cause a positive result in the CPMA’s drug testing program.
CFlA also advised that it has a program for feed mills that minimizes the likelihood of ractopamine being found in feed for animals destined for international markets that do not allow any amounts of ractopamine in exported meat. The threat of an unintended positive test result to Canadian horsepeople may be minimized in several ways including but not limited to obtaining feed from manufacturers certifying that ractopamine is not used in feed produced at their facility.
It is suggested that owner and trainers make agreements with feed suppliers that their feed come from sources that minimize the risks of contamination. As mentioned at the outset of this memo, positive tests remain the owner’s/trainer’s responsibility.”
Please read more here.
Ractopamine is not traditionally fed to horses, so it’s somewhat of a surprise to find out it is in feed where it is considered an adulteration by the CFIA, yet tolerated in small amounts. When found in feed supplements it is usually recalled. It has also been seen as a move to cheat in the racing industry after the prohibition on anabolic steroids. The fact that trace amounts of ractopamine appear to be showing up in blood levels of horses who have consumed the adulterated food is yet another reason why horsemeat should be considered an untraceable, unregulated meat.
Horses are often sensitive to contaminants that initially seem to be of little consequence, but here is an example of a feed adulteration that went to court after several horses died.
If you have questions about mill suppliers who have been identified in this incident, please contact the CFIA .