Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The meat industry in some of the developed countries can go to any extent to increase the farm productivity as well as the meat quality as perceived by the consumer. It is well known that more than 60% of the antibiotics manufactured in the US goes for use in meat animals for preventing some of the common diseases which can make the meat unsafe. In some cases these antibiotics also help to accelerate the growth cycle enabling the industry to recoup their investment faster. Chinese are more "enterprising" in that they use antibiotics even for protecting the honey bees against some of the diseases resulting in antibiotic tainted honey! Here comes another anecdote from the developed world which describes how some of the unscrupulous animal farms are using a muscle building chemical for raising the muscle content in their animals so that leaner meat cuts are offered as premium products in the market.

"Legally used in certain countries outside the United States as a prescription medical treatment for asthma in humans and airway obstruction in horses, clenbuterol, classified as a beta2-adrenergic agonist, is perhaps more commonly known for its illegal use by athletes and bodybuilders to increase lean muscle mass and reduce body fat. It also has gained widespread popularity among livestock producers who use it illicitly to enhance the muscle growth of their meat. Although the drug is currently not controlled under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it is listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee as a non-steroidal anabolic performance enhancing drug. Accordingly, athletes are barred from using it. In past years, many professional athletes have tested positive for clenbuterol and were subsequently banned from their respective sporting events".

The problem regarding the extent of such undesirable and dangerous practice must be addressed squarely and there must be a global consensus on this issue. It is time that dependable protocols are established for fast detection of the presence of clenbuterol and similar non-steroidal drugs in meat products so that the meat industry cannot get away by resorting to such unethical and dangerous practices. It is true that a lean meat is always healthier than normal meat products but that does not mean that unsafe methods are deployed for the purpose. Profit at any cost should not be the motto of the industry and in the long run a happy consumer is always an asset for maintaining a steady market.

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