Earlier this month the Chinese government banned Chinese athletes preparing for the London Summer Olympics from eating meat. At first glance this appears to be negative publicity for animal protein producers around the world.

However, if you dig deeper into the headline, the ban is on eating meat at any location other than the Olympic Training facility over the fear of clenbuterol residues in consumed meat causing a drug test failure.

In China, drug use remains relatively uncontrolled, in spite of recent governmental efforts to the contrary. I’ve personally witnessed use of products not approved for animal administration in the US and use of products of unknown potency with unknown purity, etc.

In the case of clenbuterol, this is a beta-agonist compound that results in high rates of lean deposition and less fat deposition in both ruminants and pigs. In the US the product is banned due to concerns over possible carcinogens related to the metabolism of the compound.

However, in China it is available on the black-market and is locally known as ‘grow-powder’ which makes pigs grow faster when sprinkled on the feed. Of course, when sprinkled on the feed the level of compound added to the diet is uncontrolled, and most likely much higher than would ever be fed even if the compound were an approved product.