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Toxic meat alert: So what meat is safe?

29 January 2007

MALAYSIA - Pigs are not the only farm animals fattened with banned growth boosters. Beef, mutton and duck meat have also been found to contain beta-agonist in tests conducted by the Universiti Sains Malaysia Doping Control Centre (DCC).

Random tests confirm that cattle, goats and poultry have been fed with growth enhancers

The Ministry of Health’s food control division has detected it in beef.

Random tests by the DCC confirm that cattle, goats and poultry have been fed with Salbutamol, the most commonly used beta-agonist.

DCC science officer Mohd Azman Ibrahim told the New Straits Times that about two per cent of over 100 samples received monthly by the laboratory had traces of Salbutamol.

Beef, mutton, and buffalo and duck meat make up 20 per cent of the monthly samples.

"This is worrying as the samples were taken at random. Many more would have gone undetected.

"Since the DCC was set up 10 years ago, things have taken a turn for the worse," he said.

"Even duck farmers use Salbutamol while those rearing chicken inject their livestock with banned cancer-causing antibiotics such as chloramphenicol and nitrofuran."

Only one spoonful of Salbutamol is needed for each tonne of animal feed, which made the growth enhancer economically attractive to livestock farmers, Azman said.

A kilogramme of the easily-available Salbutamol costs RM1,500.

"It is easy to smuggle Salbutamol into the country in powder form. It will be difficult for the Customs to restrict it."

Two other types of beta-agonist, Terbutaline and Clanbuterol, though more effective, were not as widely used due to their high prices, he said.

Although beta-agonist, a drug listed under the Poisons Schedule, was banned in 1996, the ministry acknowledges that farmers use it to produce more marketable lean meat and speed up the growth of pigs.

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Source: New Straits Times Online





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