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J Anim Sci. 2002 May;80(5):1240-9.

Tissue residues of ractopamine and urinary excretion of ractopamine and metabolites in animals treated for 7 days with dietary ractopamine.

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  • 1USDA-ARS, Biosciences Research Laboratory, Fargo, ND 58105-5674, USA.


Ractopamine HCl is a beta-adrenergic leanness-enhancing agent recently approved for use in swine. Depletion of ractopamine in tissues, and elimination of ractopamine and its metabolites in urine, is of interest for the detection of off-label use. The objectives of this study were to measure the residues of ractopamine in livers and kidneys of cattle (n = 6), sheep (n = 6), and ducks (n = 9) after treatment with dietary ractopamine for seven (sheep, ducks) or eight (cattle) consecutive days and to measure the depletion of ractopamine from urine of cattle and sheep. Two cattle and sheep and three ducks were each slaughtered with withdrawal periods of 0, 3, and 7 d. Urine samples were collected daily from cattle and sheep. Tissue ractopamine concentrations were determined using the regulatory method (FDA approved) for ractopamine in swine tissues. Ractopamine residues in urine samples were measured before and after hydrolysis of conjugates. Analysis was performed with HPLC using fluorescence detection after liquid- (hydrolyzed samples) and(or) solid-phase extraction. No residues were detected in duck tissues. Liver residues in sheep averaged 24.0 and 2.6 ppb after 0- and 3-d withdrawal periods, respectively. Sheep liver residues after a 7-d withdrawal period were less than the limit of quantification (2.5 ppb). Sheep kidney residues were 65.1 and undetectable at 0- and at 3- and 7-d, withdrawal periods, respectively. Cattle liver residues were 9.3, 2.5, and undetectable after 0-, 3-, and 7-d withdrawal periods, respectively; kidney residues were 97.5, 3.4, and undetectable at the same respective withdrawal periods. Concentrations of parent ractopamine in sheep urine were 9.8+/-3.3 ppb on withdrawal d 0 and were below the LOQ (5 ppb) beyond the 2-d withdrawal period. After the hydrolysis of conjugates, ractopamine concentrations were 5,272+/-1,361 ppb on withdrawal d 0 and 178+/-78 ppb on withdrawal d 7. Ractopamine concentrations in cattle urine ranged from 164+/-61.7 ng/mL (withdrawal d 0) to below the LOQ (50 ppb) on withdrawal d 4. After the hydrolysis of conjugates in cattle urine, ractopamine concentrations were 4,129+/-2,351 ppb (withdrawal d 0) to below the LOQ (withdrawal d 6). These data indicate that after the hydrolysis of conjugates, ractopamine should be detectable in urine of sheep as long as 7 d after the last exposure to ractopamine and as long as 5 d after withdrawal in cattle.

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