the effect on humans
Through misinformation, myths have developed about the effects of hormones in meat production. We set the record straight.
Hormones have been a big issue for consumers for a while now. We explain why some of the biggest issues are actually myths.
Hormone implants raise cattle hormones to dangerous levels
Numerous studies all indicate that small increases of hormones have been found in cattle due to hormone implants - but the hormone level increases are so minuscule compared to the naturally-occurring hormone levels that it is insignificant. The studies have shown that residue from an implant is so minute that they can't be differentiated from the natural hormone levels.
It is widely feared that mass meat production leads to a lot of unhealthy, synthetic hormones in the meat. But, there is no evidence to show that synthetic hormones affect human health differently, compared to normal animal hormones, since it is hard to separate the synthetic hormones from the natural occurring hormones found in milk and meat.
Hormones are transferred to humans and have negative effects
Various 'natural beef' advertising efforts have convinced consumers that using hormones is both unhealthy and produces inferior meat, compared to the 'uncontaminated' meat. This has raised concern about safety.
People believe that these hormones - used to help the cattle grow, are being transferred through the food they eat, causing various health issues - such as early puberty and cancer. The truth is, growth hormones occur naturally in all animals and other food products and there is very little concrete research to back up that claim. Many cite the EU's ban on hormones as proof that they are harmful to humans but these regulations were put in place rather to keep American beef out.
Livestock producers in South Africa also have to adhere to strict withdrawal periods before slaughter and hormones are only administered under the supervision of a specialist veterinary physician.
Meat contains dangerous levels of oestrogen
Oestrogen levels in women, men and children are rising. Some claim that this is due to the hormones in food, and while that may be partly right, the bigger culprit is larger environmental factors.
The truth is that many foods naturally contain oestrogen. Cabbage, for instance, contains 12 000 nanograms of oestrogen per 500g. Comparingly, 500g of (implanted) beef only contains 11 nanograms. We can also compare that number to beef from non-implanted cattle - which contains 8ng of oestrogen.