Officials in a Mexican state have issued a warning after suspicions that more than 50 people fell sick from eating meat contaminated with Clenbuterol.

Health services in Morelos called on people to remain vigilant for the physical symptoms that can result from consuming meat with Clenbuterol. A total of 54 people from six municipalities are affected and one person is in a stable condition in hospital.

Legal situation
Clenbuterol has been used as a food additive in some livestock feed to promote muscle mass and meat yield in cattle, lamb, poultry and swine. Such use is illegal in the U.S. and Europe.

Use of the anabolic agent for cattle fattening is a criminal offence under the Federal Animal Health Law, according to the Mexican National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA).

The agency operates programs to stop use of Clenbuterol in the feeding of bovine cattle for human consumption, which certify the work of meat producers, fatteners, storers and processors. From almost 3,800 samplings at production sites in 2019 only five positives were confirmed.

Clenbuterol symptoms can include headaches, increased sweating, insomnia, nausea, possible muscle spasms, and increased blood pressure. They usually occur shortly after consuming contaminated food, and disappear two to six days later.

Eduardo Sesma Medrano, from the Morelos public health agency, said that if after consuming meat products, issues such as tachycardia, anxiety and trembling of hands or fingers begin, it is a priority to go immediately to the nearest health center.

Sesma Medrano said the symptoms are warning signs to seek medical attention, especially for people suffering from heart disease, as it can be dangerous and possibly fatal.

Testing of products
In the municipalities of Jantetelco, Jonacatepec, Cuautla, Ayala, Atlatlahucan and Tepalcingo, 54 suspected cases of Clenbuterol poisoning were detected. In total, 39 were treated on an outpatient basis, 15 required hospitalization in different medical units but 14 of these patients have already been discharged.

Asunción Virginia Muñoz Rangel, head of the Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks of the State of Morelos (Coprisem), said an investigation was started to find the origin of contaminated meat.

Two points of sale in the area have been visited to carry out sanitary surveillance and obtain samples to analyze and determine if there is the presence of Clenbuterol in products.

As part of a thesis in 2019, Aaron Valencia Garcia of the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, analyzed samples of bovine meat products (muscle and liver), from different areas in the city of Cuernavaca, Morelos, and determined presence of Clenbuterol residues.

In total, 88 samples of beef muscle (leg) and 18 samples of beef liver were collected and analyzed from municipal markets, butchers and self-service stores. Of all 106 samples analyzed, 52 had clenbuterol residues. The amounts found also exceeded the maximum recommended limits by the Codex Alimentarius of 0.2 micrograms per kilogram for beef muscle and 0.6 micrograms per kilogram for beef liver.

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