Hormones in meat image So, what is this debate all about? Why do some people suspect hormonal additives are unhealthy? Are their suspicions founded? There is a lot of conflicting information about what additives may be in our dairy and meat products and what effect they have on us. It can be confusing to sort through all the noise. The truth is, there may not be clear answers, so how should you choose your food?

Hormones are present in all animal products whether or not the animals have been treated with hormone supplements.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a joint committee of the Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) state that the amount of these hormones that make it into food products is safe for eating. Hormones and steroids are given to livestock to help improve the production of dairy and beef. Some hormones that may be used in dairy cows include:

  • Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)— to promote milk production (may also see it as bovine somatotropin [BST])
  • Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone—steroid hormones added to promote growth and production.

Beef cattle are often given steroid additives to increase growth and development. Common steroids include:

  • Natural steroids like estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone
  • Man-mad steroids from compounds

These additives have proven benefits for increasing milk and meat production, but it does not come without controversy.