News 731 views last update:6 Aug 2012

China battles pork meat laced with a poisonous drug

There have been reports of consumers in China becoming ill and ending up hospitalised with stomach pains and heart palpitations after consuming pork laced with Clenbuterol.

Clenbuterol, in China is also known as "lean meat powder," and is banned in the country. However, animal feed is sometimes mixed with this dangerous drug because some farmers want to profit on the market – as it is used in animal feed because it can decrease a pig's body fat to a thin layer, which makes the meat appear leaner and while it also makes skin pinker – making the meat look fresher for a longer period.
Clenbuterol-treated pork requested from pig farmers
Because of the effects on pork meat, it has made some Chinese meat suppliers request Clenbuterol-treated pork from pig farmers. With using Clenbuterol fat burning and muscle growth happens rapidly, which is why some see it as an ideal a feed additive. Though there have been reports in China of the drug entering the food supply, exactly how much food tainted with this drug is not known currently – the Chinese government will not state how many cases of contaminated meat or related illness occur annually.
Pork meat mostly affected
It seems that tainted pork is a major concern in the country as Clenbuterol-tainted pork is considered to be one of China's largest food threats as reports have mostly involved this meat.
"It's really a big problem in China," said Pan Chenjun, a senior industry analyst with Rabobank. "It's not reported frequently so people sometimes think it's not a big issue but actually it's quite widespread."
Despite strict Chinese laws against "Clenbuterol" which carry a prison term for offenders who produce or sell tainted food products, there are often cases where a fine or a bribe can get the offender out of a tight spot.
Clenbuterol – quick info:
  • Clenbuterol is approved for use in some countries via presciption as a bronchodilator for asthma patients.
  • In instances is has also been used as a performance-enhancing drug in sports – with cases where athletes have been suspended from respective sports.
  • In some parts of the world Clenbuterol is used for the treatment of allergic respiratory disease in horses.
  • In September 2006 more than 330 people in Shanghai were reported to have been poisoned by eating pork contaminated by Clenbuterol that had been fed to the animals to keep their meat lean – as it increases the rate at which body fat is metabolised.

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