Just over 16 years ago, Mexican lawmakers put a ban on the use of Clenbuterol and other performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in cattle that is bred for meat. Despite this, there are still many farmers throughout the country who continue to provide these drugs to their cattle, and it may be having a larger impact than many first thought.
Clenbuterol and its Use in Cattle
Clenbuterol is a drug (not an anabolic steroid) that was originally designed as a treatment for respiratory conditions like asthma. There are some individuals who use Clenbuterol as a performance enhancer due to its stimulant effect and ability to help them shed unwanted body fat. However, this particular compound is not without its side effects. It can cause irritability, heart palpitations, sleeplessness, dizziness, and nausea in people who use it. For this reason, Mexican lawmakers banned its use in cattle back in 2000, but it seems that not all of the cattle farmers in that country have decided to comply.
Samples from 2014
In the first half of 2014, the agency responsible for testing cattle for food quality, called the Federal Commission for Sanitary Risk Protection, sampled 943 pieces of meat from a variety of stores, restaurants, and markets across the country. About 10% of those contained some amount of Clenbuterol. What’s more, blood and urine samples were collected from 20 different slaughterhouses. Clenbuterol was being used in seven of those facilities, even despite the laws put into place.
Mexican Cattle and Failed Drug Screens
Back in May of 2016, the National Football League (NFL) in the United States issued a warning to its players. They were advised to avoid eating meat in Mexico and China after Texans tackle Duane Brown had an incident with a positive screen for performance enhancing drugs following a trip to Mexico. Brown, along with officials from the NFL, proved that the Clenbuterol in his system was the direct result of eating Clenbuterol-tainted beef in Mexico. Along those same lines, many WorldTour cyclers tested positive for Clenbuterol after consuming meat in Beijing.
Removal of Country of Origin Labels
Recently, the United States passed a law that would allow meat distributors to import their products into the US without country of origin labels, which may become problematic – especially if that meat comes from countries where performance enhancing drugs are used in livestock, such as China and Mexico. It could result in even more positive PED tests, even despite the laws put into place in Mexico to prevent it. On top of this, due to the corruption in the Mexican government, very little is being done to enforce the laws that were put into place to protect consumers, including athletes who may be subject to random PED tests.
These incidents represent only a handful of cases in which individuals have unknowingly consumed meat tainted with performance enhancing drugs like Clenbuterol. In the United States, consumers can purchase organic meats, but there is no longer any requirement to provide the country of origin. To be safe, many people have stopped consuming unlabeled meats altogether for fear that they, too, will feel the effects of eating meat contaminated with PEDs.