Russia Bans US Meat Imports Due to Dangerous Drug Residue

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

You know things are bad in the US industrial food system when Russia seems to know more about it than American citizens do.

Last week, Russia announced that it intends to ban US imports of beef and pork unless these foods can be certified free of the livestock drug ractopamine.


Yeah, that’s what I thought when I first learned about Russia’s recent move.

Ractopamine was approved for use in pigs in 1999, cattle in 2003 and turkeys in 2009 – all largely unbeknownst to the public.

Ractopamine is a growth promoting drug which increases muscle mass by actively slowing protein degradation.  Unlike other veterinary drugs which are withdrawn prior to slaughter, ractopamine is started and never withdrawn in the animal’s final days.   It is given to beef cattle during their last 4-6 weeks, pigs in their last 4 weeks, and turkeys for their last 1-2 weeks.

Given that these animals are actively being given ractopamine immediately prior to slaughter and have been receiving the drug for some weeks preceding, there can be no doubt that a residue of the drug remains in the animal’s meat when it finally hits supermarket shelves.

Ok, so there’s some ractopamine left in the conventional meat of the 45% of pigs, 30% of feedlot cattle and an unknown number of turkeys.

What’s so bad about this drug anyway?

The Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of the Health and Welfare Department of Ottawa Canada found that rats fed ractopamine experienced a cluster of birth defects such as cleft palate, open eyelids, shortened limbs, missing digits, enlarged heart, and protruding tongue.

In 2002, the FDA accused Elanco, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and manufacturer of Paylean, the brand name for ractopamine for pigs, of a cover-up on the dangers of the drug in animals.    There was no mention in Elanco’s documents submitted during Paylean’s approval process of numerous phone calls from farmers reporting that their animals vomited after consuming feed containing Paylean or that they had become hyperactive, overly stressed (“down and shaking”), or had died as a result of exposure to the drug.

Inexplicably, the FDA went on to approve ractopamine for cattle the following year even after it’s 14 page warning letter to Elanco on it’s blatant deception and abuse of the approval process of Paylean for pigs!

Even though the FDA rolled over on ractopamine, other countries paid attention to the scandal with the growth enhancing drug banned in Europe, Taiwan and China where an estimated 1,700 people were “poisoned” from eating Paylean-fed pigs.

Now, with ractopamine already banned in Europe, Russia is taking the additional step of banning US meat imports unless they can be certified ractopamine-free.  While US meat producers are furious at the move, I applaud Russia for taking steps to protect its people from the ravages of exposure to this veterinary drug.

Parents of children beware.  There is no doubt that ractopamine residue will eventually be linked to fast growth aka obesity in children and even perhaps hyperactivity as it has been in animals.  Don’t wait for that day!   Protect your children now!

Opt out of conventional supermarket meats that have a high chance of containing residue of this dangerous drug.  Purchase clean, pastured meats for your family and buy locally and in bulk to get prices that are reasonable and fit within your household budget.


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources: Who Says It’s Not Safe? US Cattle and Hog Producers Furious Over Russia Meat Ban

“Not Safe for Humans” Drug Being Fed to Livestock


Picture Credit1, Picture Credit2


Comments (105)

  1. We appreciate you the great writeup. It if truth be told was previously your leisure bill the idea. Glance sophisticated to help a lot brought agreeable by you! Moreover, exactly how could possibly many of us carry on the communication?

  2. I would be happy to buy locally grown and pastured meat except for the fact that it tends to be twice as expensive. When you’re close to living on food stamps, you rather have to go with what’s cheap in the stores. That’s one of the prices of ‘organically grown’ foods.

  3. Marlib, you David Satter, and Lipman reprsent the hedge fund types and finance criminals that make money from US corrupt agribusiness.

    Stop lying and trying to hide your greed under human rights claims.

  4. David Satter and Masha Lipman just support the US criminals that hurt Americans and Russians. They don’t care about anything but money to criminal businesses like agribusiness. Satter and Lipman represent the hedge fund types and investors that make money from agribusiness even though it is killing people and hurting animals.

    They don’t represent human rights, for all their empty talk. They represent criminals who tried to hurt Russian people and American people.

  5. American agribusiness wants to hide all their crimes, all their animal torture, all their poisoning of the meat supply by getting their corrupt legislators to pass ag gag bills that prohibit free speech and stop whistleblower undercover investigations that uncover their crimes.

    Agribusiness is more corrupt than you could ever believe. The poisons they put in these animals, the sick practices, but they get billions of OUR taxpayer dollars.

    The public has been ignorant of all this because the USDA helps them hide it, rather than reprersenting the people.

  6. MOSCOW – Since Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin as president last May, Russia has taken a series of anti-American steps. In recent months, his government has ended USAID programs in Russia and banned adoptions of Russian children by American parents.

    Russia on Wednesday banned imports of American meat and pulled out of an agreement with the U.S. on law enforcement and drug control.

    The measures were widely seen as retaliation for a new American law that bans alleged Russian human rights violators from receiving U.S. visas or opening U.S. bank accounts.

    Recent US – Russia Developments

    January 30, 2013: Russia pulls out of 2002 anti-drug agreement with the U.S.
    January 25, 2013: U.S. withdraws from joint rights working group with Russia
    December 28, 2012: Russian President Vladimir Putin signs law ending U.S. adoptions of Russian children
    December 14, 2012: U.S. President Barack Obama signs the Magnitsky Act, which penalizes Russian officials accused of human rights violations
    September 18, 2012: Russia expels USAID
    ​​The Russian ban on American meat imports goes into effect in two weeks. They threaten about $500 million worth of U.S. exports of beef and pork.

    David Satter, a Russia specialist at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, said in Moscow that the move was in reaction to the new U.S. visa ban.

    “This obviously is a form of retaliation. They want to hurt the American economy,” he said.

    Russian health authorities said they are banning the American meat because some American beef and pork contain ractopamine, a feed additive that helps make meat leaner.

    But Masha Lipman, a political analyst at the Carnegie Center in Moscow, says that Russian health authorities often follow political orders from the Kremlin.

    “I think it is being driven by the domestic developments in Russia, where anti-Americanism, anti-American propaganda has been used to discredit those civic activists who are defiant of the regime,” she said.

    The law enforcement accord dates back a decade. It allows U.S. funding for joint U.S.-Russia action in combating drug trafficking, international prostitution, money laundering, terrorism and computer crime.

    David Satter said, “This is one area of cooperation in which Russia can potentially be useful to the West. Russian organized crime, in particular, circles the world. And no one knows more about it than the Russian Ministry of Interior.”

    U.S.-Russian cooperation is expected to continue in these areas. But Masha Lipman believes the Kremlin’s new step will send a flashing warning signal to Russian officials.

    “Terminating cooperation in anti-drug activities is extremely unreasonable. I think there is a universal understanding that no country can actually do drug control independently of others,” she said.

    Wednesday’s steps by Moscow come after the Obama administration announced last Friday that it was pulling out of a joint working group with Russia supporting civil society organizations.

    Analysts fear that U.S.-Russia relations are falling into a Cold War pattern of tit-for-tat.


  7. If you would do a little more research instead of jumping on the bandwagon, you will see that the ban on US meat is not actually because they think it is unsafe. It is purely political and in retaliation to the US banning Russian human rights violators from getting US visas. They have also banned many other things, like banning US citizens from adopting Russian children. I suppose we pose a health hazzard to them! Even the Russian people do not want this meat ban because they are “hungry” over there, and this will just drive up the price of their food.

  8. This is a joke post, right? Satanists engaging in chemical warfare? That’s completely illogical and unfounded, and all of your statements will continue to bear the illegitimacy of these nonsensical comments.

  9. Inflammatory organo-militant drivel. You can distort the facts and statistics any way you’d like, but the fact is you’re getting chemicals in your body just from breathing the air. The current population is healthier and has a higher life expectancy than any past generations; the supposed “increase” in cancer is due to an increased prevalence, not incidence. The number of people living with cancer is increasing, sure. Advanced medical treatments and better research and development have led to a significantly higher survival rate for many cancers. There are more people in the current population with cancer, but that’s just because they’re not dying as rapidly as in the past. The incidence, or number of new cancers per year, has been steady for decades. The organic/vegan/green trend is just as commercialized of a stance as the meat processing industry; you’re just advocating for a different facet of industry. You can go ahead with calling Americans “asleep” and “sheep,” but perhaps take a look at yourselves before you start slinging accusations.

  10. This is just Russia engaging in protectionism for their domestic producers. I’m no advocate for ractopamine, but nothing Russia does is divorced from politics. This is just a way to justify to the world shutting others out of their markets and to their people the inevitable increase in meat prices this will produce.

  11. Pingback: Russia Bans US Meat Imports Due to Dangerous Drug Residue | CookingPlanet

  12. Leigh Miller via Facebook December 20, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Plus we have happy cows, they have shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. They are a family unit, and have a pecking order. We use the manure for our gardens in the summer, so it is a definite win win situation. And I like what Susie Coture Pope said. Yes, healthy, organic foods are our number 1 budget item also. And yes, with health insurance prices the way they are, good health is also a number one priority in our home. One begats another…

  13. Leigh Miller via Facebook December 20, 2012 at 3:24 am

    this is why we grow our own beef. so thankful to have that opportunity, very blessed. Its very lean – grass fed & hormone free.

  14. Yet another thing to make our children sick when we don’t even realize!

    However, we are struggling with local meat as the beef and wild game (deer, elk) that we have eaten in the last year have given me a terrible stomach ache. (And after paying so much you sure don’t want to be sick from it!) Although we have multiple sources of this meat from different farmers within 50 miles of home, none of the animals are “grass-fed”. They ALL are on pasture 100% of the time with no extra feed but the pasture is a dry, high elevation desert pasture. Think ragweed, invasive weeds, some clumps of hardy grasses, etc.

    I can eat organic beef without this happening and also other proteins (beans, fish, etc.). Has anyone heard of this? Is my stomach just way out of whack or what?!

  15. Lydia Fern Mehrer Hostetler via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    local butcher and local farm fresh is my meat, usually. I even raise my own chickens for meat and did a goat once, too.

  16. The Russians, and other big buyers, need to also be concerned about the GMOs being fed. International market pressure may achieve what we’ve sought here in the USA and failed to achieve, simple labeling. We want to know what sort GMO is in our food. It’s the same as ingredient and nutrient labeling. We have a right to know. Likewise, when they use hormones and such we should be able to know that too.

  17. This is so disgusting. The Russians are doing much more to protect their people from this drug than our government is doing to protect us. Even the Chinese have banned it. Yet this drug is used on pork and beef in this country, and there is no labeling on the meat in the stores that would disclose its presence. Shame on the FDA. You are right, Sarah, knowing where our meat comes from is the only solution.

  18. My goal this next year is to switch to fresh foods, very little processed , low sugar (now using coconut sugar)… We now get an organic box of fruits & veggies delivered weekly. So far so good, but I can’t figure out which brands to trust for meat. We like Applegate Organic & Natural meats and Just Bare Chicken. But I’m still not sure what is safe out there

  19. Lori Geesey via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Where is the best place to buy meat, what kind of meat or do we just give up eating meat totally. I know organic is the way to go but it’s hard to find if at all?

  20. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Kimberly Gorman Dickson I agree … buying clean food is the #1 budget item for our family. I know this sounds way out of the box crazy to some people, but I would drop our health insurance before I would lower the quality of food I buy.

  21. Linda McNary via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I just don’t understand why our country allows this stuff to go in our food. I suffer from many health problems and I eat healthy I’m convinced its what in the food that is killing me.

  22. So, how much of this is happening in Canada? I try to buy all my beef and chickens locally from a fantastic farmer, but I still like to buy chicken breasts occasionally, and we do have pepperoni on our pizza…

  23. Brandi Gordon McEwen via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    This is just so infuriating!! But now maybe more people will sit up and take notice and actually start caring where their food comes from and how it’s grown. Only then will things start to change.

  24. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Cyndi Martinek Phillips email me off line and I will send you my list of local producers for Tampa FL. You can buy clean and local for very reasonable!

  25. Travis Steal via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Good, however, if anyone is interested in free range beef, range to slaughter house with no additives and in Colorado, I have a small Lazy Acre Ranch who is taking orders for dates throughout 2013. We are working on our website.

  26. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Maria Mangiarelli Rippo Yes, I agree. This isn’t bad news to me .. it’s good news as it will motivate more people to buy from trusted small family farms.

  27. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Denver Tina Yeah, I get it. I felt the same way when I found out about this drug. Totally under the radar … what else is going on we don’t know about? It really is high time for people to opt out EN MASSE.

  28. Reneé Michael via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Ditto what Elyssa said. Where else can we buy meat? Also, I didn’t see anything about chicken in the article so I assume they don’t feed it to chickens?

  29. Jenna Bolton via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    You can find grass-fed beef online as well. Ask around to find a trusted source, or just put it on this forum…most helpful like-minded people on here!

  30. Amy 'Eastty' Gattis via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    We’ve been buying grass fed beef from a local farm the last couple years and just found a place to buy chicken!!

  31. In the first picture under the title of this article, is it of a feed lot? I tried to expand it so that I could focus on it better, but it doesn’t magnify with a point and click of my mouse.

    For anyone who lives near Greenville, Florida I would highly recommend buying your meat at Deep Roots Meat. We have toured the farm and talked with the farmer. Mr. Platt is a fifth generation farmer, who is following the same great farming practices that are preached by Joel Salatin. His farm is very clean and his cattle are healthy and happy and they’re only grass (forage) fed. And to top it off, the meat is processed in a nearby facility that is 100% devoted to Deep Roots Meats so there is no possibility of cross contamination or of dishonest swapping of meat sources.

    After a couple of years of not buying meat it is exciting to be able to buy meat again to put on my family’s table. And this meat is sooooo good!

    Go to the following web site: to find out more about the farm. While you are there you’ll find an interesting article about dung beetles. God’s design in creation is such a wonder!

    Vivian Maddox

    • Yes, that first picture is a huge, disgusting feedlot. You can smell them 5 miles away (I’m not joking). I experienced the nauseating smell firsthand when I was out in Nebraska a few years back and spent time driving through the country. They hide these facilities far far away from where anyone lives to cover their evil deeds.

      • No, you aren’t joking, and no you can’t smell them 5 miles away.

        What do you think comes out of the back end of animals? Roses?

        Where will all the grass come from to feed these naturally raised grass fed animals, and how much of the world will starve before that happens?

        You have a choice where you buy the meat you eat, and it is good to be cautious, but there are a lot of good people out there in production agriculture too, and you are slapping the evil tag on them just because you “spent time driving in the Nebraska countryside”. Nobody is hiding anything. There has to be land to build those barns on, and it typically isn’t at the city limits.

        Please exercise your freedom of choice. Its good you have it. Do you really think the American Farmer is doing anything they really feel like will hurt the general public?

        • Jim, I understand the state of Colorado has a law not allowing feedlots to be photographed. Whether that is true or not I am not completely sure. But let’s say it is true for conversation sake. Would that change your opinion that they aren’t trying to hide anything? On a side note, can anyone confirm this law? I think I saw it in the documentary, Food Inc. but I can’t remember.

          • Eddie,

            I don’t know that law and couldn’t confirm from a quick search. I am in Colorado often so I could find out quickly. I believe some of that came about after 9/11/01. There was a lot of concern about people filming and photographing feedlots (I live near many, many of them in my county). Much of this centered around people with out of state plates, just sitting and photographing. The country was concerned at the time with the thought of terrorist type attacks against our food supply, which could happen via feedlot or grassfed really. All animals have to drink. Again, I don’t know if this is why the law is enacted or not.

            However, I can tell you this. I work in the ag. industry and I am proud of it. I am not in animal production rather crops. I have been on many feedlots over my time. I have never seen anything that has alarmed me, but I am not around the injections and doctoring that takes place, so I cannot speak to that.

            I understand that this is big business today. There is a growing world population, and many more desire protein in their diet. I really don’t know how else we are going to provide it to them. Really we all want to provide it as safely as possible.

            I agree that we don’t know the long term effects of any drug (whether human applied or animal) so I am conflicted.

            I’m not sure I ever really answered your question to me. If the law was enacted after 2001 in reaction to the terror attack in New York City, then no, I’m not skeptical. If it has been much more recent, then I would wonder why. If it was done within the last year then maybe moreso. I don’t believe that any questionable activity being done would be done in the open though. And to get those photos would be trespassing and they wouldn’t need a separate law to enforce that one.

            If that land and feedlot are privately held, they do have a right to some privacy, much like you do in your home. I really don’t believe they are trying to do any harm.

        • That’s a good observation Jim about 9/11 and tampering with the food supply. Seems like the pics that were being taken in the documentary were from the public street and they reported that news reporting agencies had been sued for posting the pics they took of the facility. It’s been a while since I saw the film but that’s what I recall. So perhaps the reason for the law was because of your stated reason, but it seems like it’s being enforced for other reasons so that certain images or info doesn’t get to the public. At least that was how the case was made and I remember it having pretty good logic. But I will submit that you could be right. I am also a firm believer that a lot of what came out of 9/11 was sold as being for that reason but was really to “control” something totally unrelated. This may be the case of that as well. Thanks for discussing it though.

          • Eddie,

            I don’t disagree that everything is political. That is also why I’m taking this with a grain of salt. We are in a widespread, devastating drought. There is much less grass in the heartland to feed our cattle on right now. We have no choice but to feed them grain and hay. Rate of gain is so high right now, I don’t know how this drug could push it higher, but again, I’m not a cattle guy.

            Back to the drought. Combine this, with low carry out on grains multiply that with a growing world population, and boom you have high prices. Since I’m suspicious anyway, it would seem to me that this could just as much be a bargaining point for Russia to devalue the product as much as anything. Don’t take that I’m saying this isn’t potentially harmful in the long term, but if you have to buy food for your country you are going to try to find advantages I would think. Again just my own thoughts.

            I may come off as a homer for production agriculture, and so be it, but I have enjoyed our discussion.

        • your comments are ignorant they are hiding what they do, yes the american people are ignorant to, but if many people knew what they were doing they would not eat the meat. facts we don’t need to eat eat as much meat in this country as we do., every county and city could have their own local agri bussiness, where the meat produced is clean and healthy.. most of the farms that are doing this crap is run by corporations..not your family farmer.

      • Vivian,
        Actually, it looks like a dairy operation. Most feedlots aren’t for holsteins (black and white milk cows) as they are not bred for beef consuption. They appear to be holsteins…and I grew up on a dairy farm. I live “far, far away from where anyone lives” and there are a couple feedlots around here (Nebraska). The feedlots require a lot of space, so it’s better to put them out here. Also, they are closer to the small producers, which is where they get their supplies.

        Is it true that Russia called for this ban only after our Senate imposed trade sanctions on them for human rights violations? (Rueters)

        • Roberta, does it really matter if it’s ‘tit-for-tat’ in relation to Russia calling for the ban after the US Senate imposed trade sanctions on them (if that’s true)? The fact is that the drug has been banned in Europe, Taiwan and China. Isn’t that enough of a reason to be concerned and/or to investigate?

          • Diana,
            I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t something to be concerned about and to find out more information about. I had just read that a lot of analysts believed that was the reason the ban was enacted: our Senate slapped their political hand about human rights violations and so to get back, they hit us financially. I was just attempting to ask Sarah, or anyone else, for that matter, if she knew if there was any truth to that. In answer to your first question, yes, if there is any truth in this, then their motives are not purely for health reasons and their ban should be taken with a grain of salt.

            Again, I’m NOT saying there’s not reason for concern. I have also read about the bans on the drug in Europe, Taiwan and China. However, do they currently have a ban on all US beef imports, too? If not, why have these other major importers of US beef not responded the way Russia did? Rueters also reported that in August of this year, the Tawainese (sp?) legislature approved certain levels of the drug in beef imports.

            Because tone of voice can not be clearly communicated in writing, let me emphasize that I am NOT attacking Sarah or anyone else’s opinions. After I read Sarah’s article, I had concerns. I did a little research on the topic. My “little research” created more questions, some of which I’ve posted in the hopes that others have found credible sources with some answers.

            I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband can support us largely due to the beef producers in our area. When one of the top 10 importers of US beef imposes a ban, yes, the big feed lots are financially hit and they have to scale back, but the ones who really take a hit are the small family operations in our county who no longer have a market to sell their animals.

            Again, I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be some concern here. I’m not saying you should poison your children just so I can be a stay-at-home mom (okay that was a bit inflamitory :)

            Also, I should say that I can’t speak to the pork and poultry industries as I have almost no knowledge of how they work.

    • That’s the only place I buy beef from. It’s fantastic meat and we’ve know the platts forever since a lot of the family grew up where I live. So worth the extra money we spend and so good to know we’re getting CLEAN food!

  32. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Yes, America is asleep … just make sure you aren’t! We have to be vigilant if not for ourselves than for our precious children who rely on us to make wise food choices for what we bring into our homes.

      • Rebecca in Abu dhabi December 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm

        Thank you for keeping us informed! Unfortunately, while it may be true we all have choices, not all of us can opt to buy local grass fed beef.

        I live in the desert country of the UAE, hence no grass, and defintely no local grass fed beef.However, we import from everywhere: beef NZ, Australia, Ireland, Canada and Brazil: lamb and mutton from NZ, Australia, Pakistan and India. I buy mostly NZ and Irish beef, and NZ lamb because I am betting they feed their cattle and sheep grass, but who knows?

        There is a local slaughter house that I am told, gets its cattle from Holland. I use those bones for stock as there is no other choice. Oh, and we also have local camel–bones too! Camel vegetable soup anyone?

        • Hey Rebecca

          Any NZ beef and lamb you buy from the likes of Spinneys will be grassfed – it all is here in NZ. I just wouldn’t buy NZ pork as they do have some feedlot pigs here, so we only buy our bacon from the likes of Freedom Farms.

          I’m not sure if you guys have an organic shop in Abu Dhabi (it’s been 2 years since we left Dubai), but if not, there is one located next to The Greens and also on the lower level of the Dubai Mall (they also have a cafe attached).

          I miss the UAE so much and am a little jealous you’re still there, especially with the beautiful winter weather! I need to remind myself that I have access to loads of organics and raw milk here, as well as all my family. But, ahhh Dubai… :)

          All the best x

  33. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    The good news is that lots of Moms and Dads buying local to get clean, safe, nutrient dense foods for their children will really bolster the local economies!

  34. You mentioned that the farmers complained about their animals getting sick after eating feed that contained the drug. Do the farmers always know that the drug is in the food? Is it labeled? If not, or if the farmer (even your local one) doesn’t know about the drug and its dangers and is feeding their animals with feed containing it, then does buying local really protect you? It seems like grass-fed (at least for beef) is your best bet.

    • Supposedly organic meat is ok .. however, I am increasingly suspicious of even organic food IF it has made it’s way through the US industrial food distribution system. There are too many loopholes and things we don’t know about as evidenced by this drug ractopamine that even activist people such as myself had never heard about until this Russia meat ban. I personally feel the ONLY way to ensure safe food is to buy local DIRECTLY from the person who produces the food (or a designee that is running a buying club or whatnot).

      • The solution is to buy from small family farmers, ideally in your local area, even better who you know. This is more likely to get you the best quality food and it keeps your money circulating in the local economy. Vote with your pocket book.

        • What is your recommendation to people that live in areas that have no access to local quality meats? I have no resources around here other then beef. So I’m stuck buying the high $ organic meats at the store.


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