Japan Proposes MRLs for Betamethasone for Food Producing Animal Products
On June 27, 2018, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) announced the intention to implement MRLs for Betamethasone in food producing animals. After the due date of July 11, 2018 for embassy comments, the proposal will be submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 104/18
Betamethasone (9a-fluoro-16b-methylprednisolone) CAS # 378-44-9 belongs in a group of glucocorticoids used in human and veterinary medicine for anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and antipyretic properties. It is frequently used to promote growth and increase weight grain in cattle when it is combined with b-agonist and other anabolic steroids. Due to its adverse effects on human health, the European Union and China have established maximum residue limits (MRLs) of Betamethasone – 2 µg/kg (0.002 ppm) in liver, 0.75 µg/kg (0.00075 ppm) in muscle and kidney, and 0.3 µg/kg (0.0003 ppm) in milk for consumption , . However, Codex Alimentarius has not set international MRLs for this compound. Recently, the MHLW has amended its stance from no permitted use to being able to use Betamethasone in food producing animals as long as the MRLs  shown in Table 1 are met.
Many methods for analysis of Betamethasone residues, including enzyme-immunoassay, gas and liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS, LC/MS), have been developed in various food matrices and published in scientific journals. The highest levels of sensitivity and specificity are acquired by GC/MS but require derivatization to enhance the volatility of analytes.
What do the changes mean?
This update has the potential to affect farms and food producers. Any meat tissue, honey, and dairy products designated for Japan, must not be found to have Betamethasone residues higher than the MRLs listed in Table1. To ensure compliance with food safety regulation, food producers should seek professional advice.
Table 1. Japanese maximum residue limits (MRLs) for Betamethasone
|Food commodity||Target tissue||MRLs
|Cattle, pigs||Muscle, kidney||0.0008|
|Fat, liver, edible offal||0.002|
|Other terrestrial mammals||Muscle, fat, liver, kidney, edible offal||0.0003|
|Chicken, other poultry||Muscle, fat, liver, kidney, edible offal||0.0003|
|Honey and royal honey||-||0.0003|
1ppm = part per million
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