During the last meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers, the Presidency briefed the ministers on the adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission during its session on 2-7 July 2012 of a maximum residue limit (MRL) for ractopamine in beef and pork meat (13764/12).
Together with the Presidency and the Commission, many member states regretted the potential
consequences of the adoption of a MRL for ractopamine by the international organisation. Delegations defended in particular the current EU legislation banning growth promoters and raised concerns about the decision procedure in the Codex alimentarius.
The EU policy towards this substance has been established on the grounds of persisting scientific uncertainty about the safety of products derived from animals treated with ractopamine and opposition to the use of veterinary drugs as growth promoters.
However, as fixing a MRL is considered as setting a threshold under which the use the product is considered as safe, the new standard fixed by the Codex can be considered de facto as an authorisation of using ractopamine below the fixed MRL in food producing animals. This could lead some third countries to question the EU policy, since Codex standards are usually considered as benchmarks in the framework of the SPS agreement of the WTO.
In order to defend the interest of EU consumers, the Council, in close cooperation with the Commission, has started identifying at the Codex Alimentarius working pary the next steps that the EU will have to take. The Presidency informed ministers that they will have the opportunity to discuss this issue at a next Council meeting.
Wednesday September 26, 2012/ Consilium/ European Commission.