* Brazil banned ractopamine on Nov. 12
* Drug was likely not used commercially yet in Brazil
* Government wants to set up segregated beef production
SAO PAULO, Dec 10 Brazil said on Monday that it
had temporarily banned a feed additive called ractopamine and
other beta blockers that promote muscle growth in animals such
as pigs and cattle because it fears being shut out of its
largest beef importer, Russia.
The ban will be in effect until Brazil can set up a
segregation system for beef and pork produced for foreign
markets where ractopamine is banned in meat, said Carlos Mota, a
representative from the Agriculture Ministry.
Ractopamine is in a class of drugs known as beta inhibitors
or blockers that counteract the effects of adrenaline on the
nervous system and slow the heart rate. In livestock, it
promotes muscle gain.
Mota said the ministry had banned ractopamine and other
so-called beta inhibitor drugs since Nov. 12, after Russia said
it would require future meat imports to be free of the drug and
that some exporting states would have to certify their meat.
Russia said on Monday that it would step up tests on U.S.
and Canadian meat imports for traces of the banned feed
The European Union and China already have certain
restrictions on use of the drugs in meat.
"This is a question of time," said Alexandre Mendonca de
Barros, director at local consultants MB Agro. "Brazil does not
have any laboratories at this time set up to handle this type of
testing and certification."
It is still not clear that Brazil had yet been using
ractopamine on a commercial basis, said Jerry O'Callaghan, head
of investor relations at JBS SA, the world's biggest
"In our understanding it was only used experimentally with
quarantine restrictions this year. The impression from what the
government is saying is that the product won't be used at any
time until a reliable split system is in place that would be
satisfactory to the countries that buy Brazilian meat,"
Brazil has exported 896,670 tonnes of beef between January
and September and Russia imported 212,456 of it, according to
data published by Brazil's meat exporters association Abiec.
Ractopamine is not authorized for human consumption but it
is permitted as a limited feed additive for livestock by the
For a FACTBOX on ractopamine click inside the brackets
(Reporting by Reese Ewing and Peter Murphy in Brasilia)