The meat industry doesn’t care about you or the animals

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The meat industry doesn’t care about you or the animals

Pigs waiting to be auctioned

The more I learn about the industries that exploit animals to be used for food, the more I realize that there is simply no concern for the animals or even for the humans who consume the meat of those animals.

Erik Marcus linked me to an article Martha Rosenberg has just written about the drug ractopamine, which is used in pigs and cattle as they near slaughter to increase weight gain. Ractopamine was originally developed as an asthma medication, and there is no period of time when the animals are taken off of the drug before slaughter.

While researchers and scientists investigate the cause of our diabetes, obesity, asthma and ADHD epidemics, they should ask why the FDA approved a livestock drug banned in 160 nations and responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown and 10 percent mortality in pigs, according to angry farmers who phoned the manufacturer.

The beta agonist ractopamine, a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis, was recruited for livestock use when researchers found the drug, used in asthma, made mice more muscular says Beef magazine.

But unlike the growth promoting antibiotics and hormones used in livestock which are withdrawn as the animal nears slaughter, ractopamine is started as the animal nears slaughter. (Source)

And this isn’t just a mild antibiotic. In fact, people are warned to wear gloves and masks if they might come in contact with it:

How does a drug marked, “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear, and a NIOSH-approved dust mask” become “safe” in human food? With no washout period? (Source)

In the US, ractopamine is approved for use in pigs, cattle, and turkeys. But wait, you say, we wouldn’t allow a drug like this to be used in Canada! Sorry to disappoint, but Canada is on the same pharmaceutical train as the US, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has approved ractopamine use in pigs and cattle.

Roctopamine is known to cause increased stress in animals and increases the likelihood that animals will arrive as downers at the slaughterhouse. But, even if the death rate increases, the weight gains from the use of ractopamine are great enough that it’s a net benefit to the farmer.

But at a cost of increased suffering for all of the animals, not to mention increased human health risk. Since the drug is given to animals up to the point of being shipped off to slaughter, who knows how much ends up getting washed into groundwater or how much remains in the meat when it is sold?

What’s striking to me is that China and Taiwan have banned the use of ractopamine because of its health risks. They won’t even allow meat into the country that contains traces of the drug. in 2007 a shipment of pig meat from a slaughterhouse in Canada was found to contain ractopamine, and they banned all imports of meat from that slaughterhouse. When China and Taiwan, both countries that have slightly questionable records when it comes to human safety, prohibit the use of a drug because of its health risks, there must be something to it.

And how can you know if the meat you eat has ractopamine in it? Any conventionally raised pigs or cattle may be fed ractopamine. There is no requirement that the farm disclose the use of this drug. It certainly doesn’t make it onto any packaging. How then can anyone make an informed decisions about what (or who) they are eating?

Quite frankly, no matter how carefully we watch the animal exploitation industries (meat, eggs, and dairy included) they are focused on maximizing profit. And the interests of animals and consumers alike are just obstacles to overcome in pursuit of that profit.



February 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Great post, Glenn. This is just one of many examples of how the meat industry cares about humans only slightly more than they care about the animals they kill.

Nicole Loranger

September 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

After reading this, I am not willing to buy pork. Where can I tell the government that I disapprove? or how can I be sure that what I am buying is free of ractopamine?


September 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

I can understand how this would put you off of pork! It’s important to note that the use of ractopamine and other growth promoting drugs is much less of an issue than the suffering of the animals involved.

If you are interested in contacting the government, you might start with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

The best and most effective way to stop supporting this practice is to go vegan. Simply removing your financial support from industries that don’t care about you or the animals they raise and kill is one of the strongest messages you can send.

Yolanda Chen

March 27, 2011 at 8:02 am

I don’t trust Canadian Food Inspection Agency. I once sent an email to the agency to express my concern about the preservatives used in food. It did not reply to me at all!
How can we find out what kind of chemicals used in food, besides the ractopamine? Must be much more than ractopamine.

Kevin Woolf

April 27, 2011 at 10:58 pm

There are more forces at work here than this article addresses. The article here does a great job of putting the facts on the table. Protectionism is in full effect, with propagandist promoting the “risks” of ractopamine, but these types of drugs have been used for decades. Read up on the facts before assuming a position. I say let consumers choose, just like they can choose to smoke, drink, and talk on cell phones.

The Meat Industry Doesn’t Care About Animals, or People

May 8, 2012 at 10:46 am

[…] Doesn’t Care About Animals, or PeopleLiberation BC Blog recently shared an article entitled The meat industry doesn’t care about you or the animals¬†discussed how cattle and pigs are given the drug¬†Ractopamine to increase their weight prior to […]

jake ferm

January 16, 2013 at 9:17 am

we to get the politicians and force feed them ractopamine atibiotics gmos till the test is safe for us

Shelly Norton

April 17, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Excellent article


October 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

So, what will happen now that the Chinese purchased Smithfield?

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