July 8th 2006, Ho Chi Minh City: The HCM City veterinary department has found samples of pork containing Clenbuterol, a banned feed additive that may cause poisoning in humans.
Clenbuterol is used to help animals gain more weight in a short time, but it could be dangerous to human health. A campaign to survey in six districts within the city conducted by the City Veterinary Department discovered the Clenbuterol residues in pork, alarming veterinary experts.
Among 500 samples collected from markets and abattoirs, 30% were Clenbuterol positive, and all pork in the studies had already been sold.
Mr Huynh Huu Tho, Head of the Centre for Testing, Treatment and Husbandry Medicines, said that Clenbuterol is now used over Dexa, which increases weight by causing animals to retain water.
Clenbuterol comes in powder form and causes rapid weight gain in pigs, producing a leaner meat.
Producers administer it 21 days before slaughter, mixing 1 kilogram into 1,000 kilograms of food. Previously pigs required a year to reach to 100 kilograms, but Clenbuterol has reduced that to three months.
But veterinary scientists say the risks to human health are high. According to Mr Tho, Clenbuterol, unlike Dexa, can cause sudden mutation in cells that could lead to cancer, high blood pressure or heart attack.
Since finding residues in pork, the HCM Veterinary Department is planning to launch an expanded testing campaign of different grades of pork from several different sources. The department plans to bring the testing to other provinces as well.
One veterinary official in HCM city said that many pig farmers used both Dexa and Clenbuterol to avoid the scrutiny of veterinary officers because it would help to increase lean meat and fat. However, there has been no research on how this combination would affect human health.
Testing for clenbuterol difficult
In recent decades, there have been several cases of poisoning related to Clenbuterol. In Spain 1990, 135 people were sent to hospital after eating cow liver suspected of containing Clenbuterol. The additive has been banned in Europe since 1988 and in America since 1991. The Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has also banned it in animal husbandry.