If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, you may want to opt for a meat-less experience. A new study found horse DNA in almost 10% of 433 samples of ground beef and meat dishes sold in public markets, butcher shops, taco stands, and street stalls in five Mexican cities.

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For the study, researchers at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Mexico’s National Autonomous University analyzed 433 samples of steak, prepared meat dishes from businesses, and ground beef. What they found was not encouraging.

Reportedly, the highest percentage of horse DNA was found in ground beef sourced from stalls, street markets, and food stands. Unsurprisingly, less than 1 percent of vendors admitted to selling horse meat. Fortunately, horse DNA was not found in supermarket meat.

Related: New Pulsar Machine Detects Horse Meat in a Matter of Minutes

Last Friday, the country’s sanitary risks commission issued guidelines encouraging consumers to “closely check labels.” Few shoppers can do this, however, as researchers noted most of the meat was sold without a description.

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Horse DNA wasn’t the only concerning ingredient found in meat dishes in Mexico. The researchers found the steroid clenbuterol in 29 out of 43 meat samples that came back positive for horse DNA. As Phys.org reports, clenbuterol is a growth enhancer for cattle and is banned in Mexico.

While horse meat is not technically illegal, its inclusion in ground beef and other meat dishes is concerning. First, the study shows that vendors are misleading consumers about the type of meat they are eating and where it is sourced from. Secondly, horses are often given medications which are not approved for animals being raised for food. Both of these should be considered as Mexico’s government takes steps to improve food regulation.

+ School of Veterinary Medicine

Via Phys

Images via Pixabay