Ractopamine is banned from food production in at least 160 countries around the world, including countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and Republic of China (Taiwan), due to its suspected health effects. Yet, the majority of North Americans are unaware that the drug is used in meat production.
Since 1998, more than 1,700 people have reportedly been "poisoned" from eating pigs fed the drug. If imported meat is found to contain traces of the drug, it is turned away, while fines and imprisonment result for its use in banned countries. Fear that the ractopamine ban might be lifted brought thousands of demonstrators onto the streets in Taiwan last year, demanding that the ban remain in place.