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Tyson Foods unit to ban hog growth drug to boost pork export

Tyson Foods Inc. beef and pork subsidiary Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. said Oct. 18 the company will prohibit the use of animal feed additive ractopamine in hogs procured in the U.S. from February 2020.

Tyson Fresh Meats, which generates almost $1 billion in pork export sales annually, buys most of the hogs from about 2,000 independent farmers. The company has notified the farmers and gave them until Feb. 4, 2020, to meet the new requirement.

Ractopamine is a feed ingredient that helps increase the amount of lean meat in hogs. It is FDA-approved but banned in other countries, such as China.

Tyson Fresh Meats said it has been offering a limited amount of ractopamine-free pork to export customers by working with farmers who raise hogs without it, but noted that these programs no longer meet growing global demand.

"We believe the move to prohibit ractopamine use will allow Tyson Fresh Meats and the farmers who supply us to compete more effectively for export opportunities in even more countries," Tyson Fresh Meats President Steve Stouffer said in a statement.

The move comes shortly after the U.S. arm of Brazilian food company JBS SA said it will stop ractopamine use in its supply chain. Virginia-based meat producer Smithfield Foods Inc. said in 2018 that it already has plants and farms that do not use ractopamine.