Hair analysis, a reliable and non-invasive method to evaluate the contamination by clenbuterol

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2013 Jul;93:186-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.04.002. Epub 2013 Apr 19.


The illegal use of clenbuterol has been an increasingly serious issue in today's livestock products industry. It becomes an important project to develop a reliable approach to detect its content in food animals. A simple and sensitive LC-MS/MS method was developed to detect clenbuterol residue in hair, with the low limit of quantitation (LLOQ) about 0.5ng/g. Hogs fed with 340µg/day of clenbuterol for 2 weeks were found a high clenbuterol residue in their hair approximately at 1-2 months after withdrawal. There remained 3.31ng/g clenbuterol in hog hair approximately 5 months after the last administration, focused on the tip of the hair (mainly in hogs with dark hair). An extensive contamination was observed in twenty investigated market hogs whose dark hair obviously had a higher clenbuterol residue than the light ones (p=0.017, t test). Volunteers (60.3 percent) from Xuhui district (Shanghai) were found to have a detectable amount of clenbuterol in their hair (>0.5ng/g). In conclusion, hair residue detection is a reliable method to evaluate the clenbuterol contamination in animals and humans. Meat supply in the Xuhui district might have serious potential safety risks which should be further investigated and discussed to determine the safety range of clenbuterol residue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / analysis
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / metabolism
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • China
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Clenbuterol / analysis*
  • Clenbuterol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Hair / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Livestock
  • Male
  • Meat / analysis
  • Swine
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Clenbuterol