EU slams Codex Alimentarius approval of animal growth drug
By Ed Bray | Friday 06 July 2012
The European Commission has slammed the adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) of an international threshold for the presence of ractopamine - a drug used in the US and Brazil to enhance growth in pigs and cattle - claiming that risks to human health have not been ruled out. Despite the EU leading a group of countries, including China, Russia and India, which sought to block approval of an accepted residue level, the UN’s food standards-setting body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, adopted on a single vote difference limits of ten micrograms per kilogram in pig or cattle muscle, 40 mg/kg in liver and 90 mg/kg in kidneys.
An analysis by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), conducted in 2009, had strongly criticised the data and methodology used by the CAC to calculate the acceptable daily intake. Commenting on the vote, Commission officials were quick to defend the EU’s ban, saying that an international ractopamine standard was not justified and that human health concerns still remained. The EU also attacked the CAC for taking the decision on the basis of a single vote rather than consensus-based decision making, “one of the fundamental principles of the organisation”. “It is clear that for standards to be universally acceptable they also need to be universally accepted,” the Commission said. Trade analysts suggest that the move could make the EU more vulnerable to challenges at the WTO, which would be more likely to rule against countries with zero-tolerance policies in the case of challenges from ractopamine users. “Given its outstanding safety concerns, the EU’s current legislation will remain in place,” officials said.
The CAC also adopted new standards for the presence of melamine - a substance used to make kitchenware and the cause of a number of health scandals in recent years – in liquid infant milk.