China proposes standards on hormone residues in beef after U.S. trade deal

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BEIJING, March 12 (Reuters) – China has drawn up food safety standards on residue limits of growth hormones in beef, a move seen as a further step towards opening up its market to American imports of the meat.

China has previously had zero tolerance for any residues of growth hormones, which has restricted the amount of beef it can import from the United States where the drugs are widely used.

However, Beijing agreed in its Phase 1 trade deal with the United States signed in January to adopt residue limits for three hormones used in beef, in addition to other changes to make more U.S. beef eligible for export to China, the world’s top importer of the meat.

The proposed standards were published last week on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ department of agricultural products quality and safety supervision, with a public comment period that closed on March 6.

Proposed maximum residue limits (MRLs) for Zearanol and Trenbolone Acetate in beef muscle were 2 micrograms per kilogramme while for Melengestrol Acetate it was 1 microgram. The standards did not cover beef offal.

The residue limits are in line with those used by Codex Alimentarius, a collection of internationally recognised food safety standards.

While it is not clear when they would come into effect, China had agreed to adopt MRLs for the hormones within one month of the trade deal coming into effect on Feb. 14.

Any new standards would also apply to other beef exporters.

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