U.S. and Chinese trade personnel began a round of discussions last week, focusing on ractopamine use within the U.S. pork industry, and consequently the potential impact on imported pork products.

China has a zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine residue levels. Last month, Beijing officials found some residues and then moved to block eight U.S. plants from exporting pork products to the Asian nation.

The talks focused on the technical aspects of the lean-enhancing feed additive. U.S. negotiators want China to drop the ban, calling it an unjustified trade barrier. "There's no scientific rationale for such a [ban], and we're urging them to move to a [minimum risk level]," says Mark Keenum, USDA undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services.

China's interest in ractopamine seemed to increase following its own food-safety and product-quality problems experienced in the global export market. Meanwhile, Taiwan has dropped it's zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine.

Meanwhile, Smithfield reached an agreement to ship some pork products to China from hogs that were not fed ractopamine.

More talks are scheduled between China and the United States for later this month. 

Source: USDA, Meatingplace.com