Thursday, May 30, 2013

Behind China's U.S. pork deal, fears over additives

When Smithfield Foods Inc. quietly weaned the first of its pigs off the controversial feed additive ractopamine last year, it may have helped open the door for a Chinese counterpart to acquire the world's largest hog producer.

Used for more than a decade in the U.S. livestock industry to help pigs quickly build lean muscle instead of fat, the additive had begun to ring alarm bells among some major meat importing countries around the globe. U.S. media reports of ractopamine-fed pigs becoming sick fueled questions among food-safety critics last year about the potential long-term impact on human health.