Ractopamine hydrochloride is pharmacologically classified as a phenethanolamine β-adrenoceptor agonist. The metabolic fate of Ractopamine hydrochloride is similar in the target species (pigs and cattle), laboratory animals and humans. Ractopamine makes livestock grow faster with leaner meat and less fat deposition. The livestock demonstrate higher feed efficiency which means that they produce more meat from the same amount of feed. Livestock treated with Ractopamine can suffer significant adverse health effects. They are the opposite of the more familiar beta blockers which slow the heart rate. Beta agonists such as Ractopamine speed the animal’s heart rate mimicking stress hormones.
The use of Ractopamine is authorised for use in countries such as USA and Canada but is banned in almost 160 countries in the international market including the EU, thus creating a need for reliable screening tests to ensure the supply of ractopamine free produce to consumers.