China to crack down on use of leanness enhancers in livestock

China’s agriculture ministry has said it will crack down on the use of leanness-enhancing agents in farm animals to guarantee the quality and safety of livestock products.

The three-month drive will focus on the use of the banned substance clenbuterol in cattle and sheep, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement, also urging local authorities to monitor its possible use in pigs.

Clenbuterol is used by farmers to promote growth and muscle leanness in animals but is banned in many countries including China because of risks to human health.

It is not used in food-producing animals in Canada either.

The ministry said it would investigate the use of clenbuterol on sheep farms, after state television revealed that the meat yield-boosting drug was being used in a major sheep-production region.

In a separate notice on the same day, the ministry said it would work with other departments to organize investigations and “severely” punish all kinds of illegal activities involving the use of leanness enhancers.