China to crack down on use of leanness enhancers in cattle and sheep

FILE PHOTO: Villagers on an electric bike herd their cattle along a road in the town of Boao in Qionghai, Hainan province, China August 11, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China’s agriculture ministry said on Friday 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 its risks to human health.

Earlier this week, 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 Friday, the ministry said it would work with other departments to organise investigations and “severely” punish all kinds of illegal activities involving the use of leanness enhancers.

Reporting by Twinnie Siu; Editing by Kirsten Donovan