Food Law News - EU - 2012

Council Minutes, 22 and 23 October 2012

RESIDUES - Concil discussed follow-up on Codex decision on ractopamine

The following is an extract form the Minutes of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting held on 22 and 23 October 2012:

The Council adopted conclusions [see below] on the follow-up to the adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission during its session on 2-7 July 2012 of a maximum residue limit (MRL) for ractopamine in beef and pork. For further details, see 14981/12.

At the last Council meeting in September, many member states, together with the Presidency and the Commission, regretted the potential consequences of the adoption of an MRL for ractopamine by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Delegations defended in particular the current EU legislation banning growth promoters and raised concerns about the Codex Alimentarius decision making procedure.

Ractopamine is a growth promoter belonging to the family of beta-agonists: it has an anabolic effect which significantly increases muscle mass while decreasing the fat content of carcasses. Since 1996, the use of growth promoters and the import of meat from animals treated with these substances are strictly prohibited in the EU. The EU policy towards this substance has been established on the grounds of persisting scientific uncertainty about the safety of products derived from animals treated with ractopamine and opposition to the use of veterinary drugs as growth promoters.

However, as fixing an MRL is regarded as setting a threshold under which the use of the product is considered to be safe, the new standard fixed by the Codex can be regarded de facto as an authorisation to use ractopamine below the fixed MRL in food-producing animals. This could lead some third countries to question the EU policy, since Codex standards are usually considered as benchmarks under the WTO's SPS agreement.

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