Hormones in Beef…Are They Safe?

There are many questions that surround the production, harvesting and even labeling of meat in today’s market. Sometimes it’s hard to interpret labels and find the product you want. It is even harder with so many sources of information. You’ve got meat labeled all-natural, organic, and then beef that is not specially labeled. This can be the label that consumers have the most questions about. One topic that comes up when talking about conventional beef is hormone implants.

Are they safe? Why do cattlemen use hormones? How much of the hormones is in the meat you eat? How does it compare to the hormones in other foods?

The first thing to remember is that all foods, including plants, have naturally occurring hormones. Hormone implants used in beef production are administered in the ear. It is placed in the ear, because that part of the animal never enters the human food chain in the United States.

The FDA has approved a number of hormone drugs used in beef and sheep. Approval only happens after very extensive information and studies show that the meat derived from animals treated with hormone implants is safe for people to eat. The FDA also requires testing to ensure that these drugs do not harm the animal or the environment.

The beef industry uses hormones in production to increase the lean meat yield. Implants increase average daily gain, feed conversion efficiency and daily feed intake, thus making the cattle more sustainable. The use of implants means that feeder calves reach harvest weight quicker, which in turn results in using fewer feed and water resources.

The biggest question consumers have is, “What does it do to the meat and is it healthy?”  The quick answer is that there is no difference in the healthiness of the meat from cattle that have not been implanted and those that have been implanted.

If you look at the estrogenic activity on a 3 ounce serving of beef, meat from implanted beef has 1.2ng of estrogenic activity and meat from non-implanted beef has an estrogenic activity of .85ng.

There is a slight difference between the two, but when compared to other foods, beef is drastic lower in estrogenic active compounds than other foods.  It should be noted that scientists have shown that very little of these compound are absorbed as a hormone.

Also, when you compare the amount in food with the estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone we produce in our human bodies every day, it really becomes a non-issue.  The most important thing is to remember that the FDA does not allow anything that would be harmful to consumers, animals or the environment and this government entities oversees and approves the use of these compounds.

Here is a video with more information.

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