Hormone meat pulled off shelves
• Wendy Hargreaves
• From: Sunday Herald Sun, Austrailia
• December 26, 2010 12:00AM
It is an Australian first that has sent shock waves through the meat industry.
Industry experts predict higher beef prices as more customers demand hormone-free meat, which makes up about half of all beef sold in Australia.
Farmers have used hormone growth promotants (HGPs) to speed up muscle growth in cattle for more than 30 years, backed by rigorous safety approval from health authorities.
But in a survey of 1000 people by Meat and Livestock Australia, leaked to the Sunday Herald Sun, almost half said they would consume less meat if it had added hormones, while 16 per cent would "never touch it again" and 15 per cent would "actively warn others".
Without the HGPs, industry experts said another two million head of cattle would be needed to make up a shortfall in meat, creating environmental problems. Read More
The most common question we get as we talk to consumers is about hormones. Most media stories, like this one, fail to give readers all of the information they need in order to make a sound decision. All food has hormones in it. Both animal and plant-based foods contain hormones. Hormones are the chemical messengers that life depends on. Many plants actually contain higher levels of hormones than meat does. There is no such thing as hormone free food.
The difference in hormone levels from a 3 ounce piece of beef treated with a growth hormone versus one that wasn’t is one-half of a nanogram. That’s one-half of one-billionth of a gram. Compare that to the amount of estrogen in a birth control pill, which is in the neighborhood of 34,000 nanograms. You would have to eat nearly 5 million pounds of beef to equal the amount of hormones in a year’s supply of birth control pill.
It’s essential that we put things in context when we are having discussions like these.