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Pork industry acting quickly on ractopamine finding in China

Pork groups and the Can­adian Meat Council are working together to avoid any disruption to exports to China in the wake of a residue complaint from that country.

China says it has found traces of the growth promoter ractopamine in a shipment of pigs’ feet.

“Canadian Pork International, Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Meat Council are working with the establishment involved as well as with Canadian government officials to clarify this incident and to take corrective actions,” said Pork Council spokesman Gary Stordy. “We are taking this detection very seriously and want to assure Chinese customers that our industry is dedicated to providing consumers a healthy, safe and nutritious product.”

The industry is confident in the integrity of the Canadian Ractopamine-Free Pork Certif­i­cation Program, which sets the standards for meeting China’s requirements that meat be free of ractopamine, he said.

China was the third-biggest export customer for Canadian pork in 2016, buying 587,100 tonnes of product, behind the United States and Japan.

After being advised about the incident by the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued an advisory to the industry that “China is looking at this violation as a systemic failure in implementation of the Canadian Ractopamine-Free Pork Certification Program which could affect future pork exports to China. Furthermore, the Chinese authorities are testing Canadian pork for ractopamine at a wider level.”

The agency has suspended exports of pork to China from the establishment, which has not been identified, said Ron Davidson, vice-president of the Canadian Meat Council. “Product en route to the Chinese market from this specific establishment is also being recalled and the plant involved will not ship until further notice.

“At present, the establishment is liaising with its suppliers and the CFIA in the conduct of a comprehensive review of all the factors associated with the shipment,” he said. “As soon as the preliminary investigation is complete, a report containing the analysis and findings will be submitted to the CFIA for onward transmission to China.”

“We look forward to receiving more information and reviewing the compliance with the program at all levels of the supply chain,” Stordy said. “The Canadian pork industry values its relationship with China and looks forward to continuing a strong trading relationship.”

Ractopamine as a feed additive is allowed for beef and pork in Canada, the United States and Mexico but banned in about 160 countries including the European Union, Russia, China and Taiwan even though the Codex Alimentarius says it’s safe to use with appropriate withdrawal periods. Canada also allows it to be used in finishing heavy turkeys.

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