There is a lot of debate about hormones used in meat production. Many people are turning to organic, free range, grass-fed meat to ensure they don’t ingest any potentially harmful additives.
Hormones are used throughout the Australian beef industry to speed up growth and increase productivity of cattle. They also help to produce bigger cattle with less feed, reducing the cost of production and boosting profits. They can improve the consistency of taste, tenderness and colour.
HPGs, hormone growth promotants, have been used in Australia for 30 years to boost weight gain in cattle. Most often HPGs are administered through an implant inserted behind a bull or heifer’s ear. These implants last for three to four months, slowly releasing a dose of hormones. Alternatively, the hormone is put in the grains the cattle eat.
According to Meat and Livestock Australia, there is barely any difference between hormone levels found in beef from cattle that had been given HPGs to those that haven’t. Due to the fact that HPGs are naturally occurring hormones, they’re supposed to be safe for human consumption.
Despite this, the European union banned the use of HPGs in 1988. There was a possibility that eating meat with HPG residues was linked with diseases such as cancer. The EU conceded that further research was needed to determine the actual risks to a person’s health, but the ban still holds, according to RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase.
According to the RSPCA, HPGs commonly use the synthetic hormones trenbolone acetate and estradiol benzoate, and these could increase the risk of disease. Artificial hormones can also cause infections in animals if not administered correctly.
More research needs to be done for there to be definitive answers about the safety of using hormones in meat production. However, there are certain things you can be sure of. Choosing organic meat means you’re choosing a product that has had nothing added throughout all stages of production.