New test can detect clenbuterol abuse
A SIMPLE new test may result in more farmers facing prosecution for using the illegal growth promoter "angel dust", or clenbuterol.
Scientists have discovered that animal hair retains high levels of clenbuterol. This means that clenbuterol fed to an animal can be detected while the animal is still alive, rather than from carcase samples at the slaughtering stage.
According to Dr T.B. Barragry of UCD's veterinary college, hair has been shown to retain high residues of clenbuterol.
"It has been suggested that this tissue may accumulate clenbuterol because of the substance's interacting with the pigment melanin," said Dr Barragry, who is an expert in chemical residues in animals and food.
"Using hair samples opens up the possibility of taking samples for analysis from live animals."
He added that clenbuterol can be found in feathers from treated birds for up to 40 days.
Dr Barragry said the sole problem in using hair from cattle is that farmers using clenbuterol might argue that hair from a treated animal had been contaminated by hair from other animals.