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Lost Meat Sales to Russia Over Ractopamine Costing Millions, Not Billions

The ban on U.S. pork and beef exports to Russia over ractopamine is costly for American producers, but not as much as was recently reported by the U.S. Ambassador.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told a Moscow business newspaper that the year-old ban had cost America’s pork and beef industries $4-5 billion. The ban on the feed additive used in the U.S. has actually cost American producers about $4-5 million, and McFaul quickly acknowledged the mistake without explaining how it came about.

Ractopamine is a growth additive that results in more lean meat production. While world regulatory bodies have set safe levels for its use, numerous countries have banned the substance.

McFaul, who was born in Montana, has been U.S. Ambassador to Russia for two years and is going through a new round of attention from Moscow’s media. In addition to explaining the U.S. interest in exporting pork and beef to Russia, the Ambassador has been talking about the need to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and getting cargo into and out of Afghanistan. McFaul went to Moscow as Ambassador directly from the White House, where he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council.

The international Codex Alimentarius Commission set safe limits for residual ractopamine in meats in July 2012, but Russia went ahead with its December 2012 announcement of the ban. McFaul said U.S. pork and beef products actually stopped entering Russia in February 2013. While the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and 27 other regulatory authorities around the world concur with the safe levels for the growth additive, China and the European Union have also banned ractopamine.

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