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In an unusual step, the Food and Drug Administration is trying to rescind approval of an antibiotic used by pork producers because the medication may leave trace amounts of a carcinogenic residue.

The antibiotic, which is called Mecadox, is used to treat and prevent disease in swine, as well as fatten the animals. An estimated 40 percent of pork producers rely on the medicine, according to a 2012 report by the US Department of Agriculture. Known chemically as carbadox, the antibiotic has been available for roughly 40 years.


The FDA wants to rescind approval after conducting a preliminary risk assessment that found there could be a “potential risk” to humans from eating pork, especially pork liver, derived from pigs that were treated with the drug. Pork liver is used to make liverwurst, hot dogs, lunchmeat, and some types of sausage, the agency noted.

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