When it comes to beef, it seems like in the media we’re always hearing about hormones.  What are they, how do they affect us, should they be used.  All good discussions to have, but often times there is a lot of misinformation being shared and it leads to people being afraid to eat beef.

Our friends at Alberta Beef set the record straight, so you can feel confident in consuming local beef products.

beef cattle
Image source: Alberta Beef Producers

Why would hormones be used in beef production? 

All plants and animals produce hormones naturally, including humans. Beef producers use hormone implants in cattle to enhance the hormone production already taking place in the animal. Hormones are used to make cattle more efficient:

  • Directs growth towards muscle and away from fat.
  • Speeds growth.
  • Reduces the amount of feed an animal needs.

These implants result in 11% more beef from 20% fewer cattle, which means less environmental impact, less feed required, and more cost savings for the producer, which is passed on to consumers like you.

To give you an idea of what that looks like, to produce the same amount of beef in 2011, it took 29% fewer cattle, 24% less land, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 14% compared to 1981. 

Is it safe?

Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations all conclude the use of hormones is a safe practice that does not cause harm to human health.

Canada’s Food and Drug Act requires hormone implants to be effective, safe for regular consumption and safe for the animal.

While all beef contains naturally occurring hormones, random sampling is done to ensure hormone levels are below the standard set by Health Canada.

Hormone Levels in Beef

Many common foods have higher hormone levels than beef produced with hormone implants. 
(1ng = 1 billionth of a gram of estrogen)

  • 75g beef without hormone implants = 1.1ng
  • 75g beef with hormone implants = 1.9ng
  • 75g chicken = 2.1ng
  • 75g pork = 2.5ng
  • 355mL beer = 15ng
  • 355mL milk = 51ng
  • 75g cabbage = 2,025ng
  • 1 Tbsp soybean oil = 28,370ng

Help us squash the misinformation and share the facts.  Download Alberta Beef’s infographic on hormone use in beef production here.

Source: Alberta Beef Producers.  For references and more information about the beef industry, visit AllForTheBeef.com.