The truth about hormones, antibiotics, and beef
Did you know that all Canadian beef is antibiotic free? Or that the difference in hormone levels in a serving of beef from cattle raised with hormone implants versus without is less than one nanogram (ng) – 1.9 ng versus 1.1 ng, respectively? A nanogram is one billionth of a gram.
The amount of estrogen from one serving of cabbage is equal to the same amount of estrogen from over 1,000 servings of beef produced using hormone implants. Compared to some other plant and protein sources, beef has the lowest amount of estrogen per 75 g serving (Canada’s Food Guide recommended serving size). Compare those amounts to the amount of estrogen produced by your body every day. An average adult female produces around 480,000 ng while an average adult male produces 136,000 ng, daily.
Health Canada and the World Health Organization and the United Nations all conclude that the use of hormones is a practice that can be continued without harm to human health.
The use of hormone implants means fewer environmental resources are used in beef production. In Cana- da, we use 24 percent less land than we did twenty years ago. If we were to return to 1950s technology, while maintaining current production rates, we would need 11 percent more feed, four percent more water, seven percent more fuel, and produce 14 percent more greenhouse gases. The result of increasing efficiencies means fewer resources with smaller impacts on the environment – and your grocery bill.
All Canadian beef is antibiotic free. Prior to processing, cattle must wait a specified withdrawal time after the last treatment of antibiotics to ensure no residue is left in the beef. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regularly tests product for antibiotic residue, with the latest results showing over 99.9% of beef tested free from antibiotic residues. If residues are found, the beef is removed from the food supply.
Antibiotics are used to ensure animal welfare. Providing care to sick cattle, including using antibiotics when appropriate, is the humane thing to do. It is often better for the animals to be treated with antibiotics through feed rather than being subjected to the stress that can be caused from repeated handling to give injections. Preventing infection can reduce the need to use more powerful antibiotics if a disease becomes more serious.