When in Australia recently (2011) there was a newspaper article about an Olympic athlete who was disqualified after a race as he tested positive to clenbuterol which is a banned substance for athletes. From memory, the story goes that the athlete ate meat at a restaurant the evening before and his claim is that the clenbuterol came from this source. So what’s all the fuss about anyway.
Simply put clenbuterol is a synthetic chemical widely used as a cure for asthma (for horses and humans) but it more widely known as a performance enhancing drug (illegal) and body builders use it for weight loss. Now more often it is making the headline news as a beef, pork, lamb and veal growth hormone. The drug accumulates in the animal bodies especially in the liver, kidneys, and has serious side effects for humans who eat contaminated meat.
Health side effects for humans who consume clenbuterol in meat :
- Long term consumption can lead to cancerous tumours
- Eating contaminated food can make you very ill in the short-term, such as “can cause palpitations, vomiting, nausea, chest tightness, shaking and trembling as well as instability”
- Potential health problems for persons with diabetes and high blood pressure and pre-existing heart disorders
Other facts about Clenbuterol
- It is banned in many countries, except as asthma medicine and some veterinarians use it for medical treatment of horses
- It is specifically banned in human food
- When used as a growth hormone, it is long-lasting and remains in the meat after slaughter. Tainted meat has been served at wedding receptions where hundreds of people have ended up in hospital
- Cooking affected meat does not reduce toxicity
- The European Union does not permit hormones and rBGH in cows because of health concerns
- Canadian Vet Journal states clenbuterol is not legal to use on cattle for human consumption and banned in the United States.
- It is banned in other countries such as Europe (Spain) and China but is extensively used illegally throughout the world.
There is a lot of negative news from China, Australia, Spain and Germany but the chemical has also been used “sporadically” in Canada
There is a long list of links in the references of scandals involving clenbuterol such as in 2011 in China, a meat scandal over the alleged feeding of pigs for human consumption. The additives were evidently illegally added. Here is a quote from a Chinese government official on the meat scandal article:
Professor Zheng Fengtian, an agriculture economist at the Renmin University of China, said he believes the widespread use of clenbuterol is just one of many problems with the country’s meat industry. “Antibiotics are fed to pigs to stop them from getting sick, while growth hormones are added to quicken their growth,” he said. Read more about this.
- Clenbuterol is illegal in Canada (and many other countries)
- Here are approved (and otherwise) beef hormones from Health Canada “There are six hormonal growth promoters approved in Canada for use in beef cattle: three natural – progesterone, testosterone and estradiol-17ß; and three synthetic – trenbolone acetate (TBA), zeranol and melengestrol acetate (MGA)”
- Hormones are not only used in meat production but also in milking cows eg recombinant bovine growth hormone
An important factor in this dilemma is that people with existing medical conditions, compromised immune systems or the very young are more likely at risk. Take time to read food labels – it can all be very complicated, and raises other controversial issues as well as safety for the consumer, such as the contamination of our environment from the long-term use of these chemicals.
Organic beef and milk is a great option ~
available at your local farmers market (accredited)
and some grocery stores
References & Links
This article is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to food source animal growth hormones and antibiotics, so here is some extra reading
- Article on clenbuterol poisoning in Mexico
- News article on tainted pork in China
- Detrimental athletic side affects of use of banned substance clenbuterol
- Interesting article from US Food Safety and inspection Service on clenbuterol
- Information on clenbuterol from ncbi and who is NCBI
- Britain warns Olympic athletes of clenbuterol positive testing
- “Doping” has been around for a long time and positive testing of clenbuterol can result in lifetime banning from the Olympics
- Smuggling of unapproved drugs into the USA including clenbuterol
- Unapproved clenbuterol can prove fatal to horses US FDA warning
- Alert – US FDA Warning re smuggling of clenbuterol from Canada, or other countries, into US
- US FDA changes mind and allows antibiotics in beef
- rBGH or rBST known as Posilac the genetically engineered growth hormone information and more controversy about rBGH