We recently answered a reader question asking why the United States is the only country to allow hormones in food animal production and the answer is, well, it’s not. But why is it banned in some countries and why is it used at all? We checked in with Dan Thomson, MS, PhD, DVM, Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology at Kansas State University, for some answers. Dr. Thomson tells us that we would have to ask the countries that don’t allow it and he can’t find any science to say that we shouldn’t be using this technology.
Do you buy milk labeled rBST-free? Are you worried about hormones in milk? We recently posted Are There Growth Hormones in Milk? and Hormones in Milk: Are They Causing Early Puberty in Girls?, but a recent consumer question about why hormones are used in food animal production had us reaching back out to Dr. Ann Macrina, Research/Teaching Associate at Penn State University.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about milk. We’ve outlined six of the most prevalent misconceptions about conventional milk that you might be hearing.
To regulate the flow of traffic, road signs and stop lights are used for drivers to refer to. Regulation of traffic wouldn’t be possible without road signs leading the way. In many cases, hormones and road signs play the same role. Hormones act as regulators for growth and metabolism in plants, animals and even humans. These chemical messengers are naturally occurring throughout all cell systems. Best Food Facts recently received a question regarding the level of hormones in food. We reached out to Dr. Ruth MacDonald and Dr. Ann Macrina for their expertise in hormones within food and livestock production.
Do hormones in milk, meat and eggs cause early puberty?
We have so many choices in our grocery store's dairy case - whole milk, heavy whipping cream, 2% cheese, fat-free skim yogurt. But are there more steroid hormones in the full-fat versions of dairy products? If so, are high-fat dairy products, like whole milk and whipping cream, more likely to have more steroids than those dairy products with less fat, like fat free/skim milk?
The popularity of organic and other niche-market products has increased in recent years primarily boosted by consumer perceptions that they are healthier and of higher quality. There is limited scientific data to support or refute the safety of such products.
Studies have found that pathogen prevalence is actually higher in niche market/ free range antibiotic-free farm animal production systems compared to conventional confinement operations.
If you have questions about dairy, Best Food Facts experts can help. They’ve tackled some of the most common dairy myths to help separate fact from fiction.
The Best Food Facts post about hormones is one of the most visited pages on our site. It seems many readers want more information on the topic. Our experts have answered Are hormones in my milk and meat making my kids bigger? and What could be causing early puberty in girls?
Recently, Best Food Facts received a question from Maddee asking, "What is the hormone level (estrogen) in beef compared to that of other animal protein products? With that, how does an animal that has been implanted with synthetic hormones (estrogen) excrete those hormones?”
To answer Maddee's question, Best Food Facts contacted Dr. Ann Macrina from Penn State.
With all the buzz over questions about whether antibiotics fed to animals raised for food cause human antibiotic resistance, it seems apparent that this issue is at the forefront of consumer concerns. As well, we received the questions, “Why are antibiotics fed to livestock inside CAFOs or feedlots? Is this dangerous to humans?” from http://www.fooddialogues.com/. To address the topic, and as a follow up to our previous posts on the subject, we asked experts Dr. Peter Davies and Dr. H. Scott Hurd to respond.
As the year winds down, we'd like to thank all of our readers for taking time to learn more about our food system. We appreciate your comments and questions! We'd also like to thank our food system experts for providing their thoughts and expertise throughout the year.
In the post, Hormones in Milk: Are They Causing Early Puberty in Girls, we wondered, what is causing early maturity in girls? Based on what Dr. Ann Macrina indicated, it could be any of several factors.
One of our readers, Dan, asked for clarification from Dr. Macrina: "Dr. Macrina indicated it could be any of several factors – better nourishment, higher body weight and some even suggest exposure to chemicals. Does Dr. Macrina mean chemicals like pesticides and herbicides?"
Food has gotten more and more expensive over the last several years and protein sources seem to be some of the fastest increasing items. Even one of the most affordable protein sources – eggs – has seen an increase in price. Along with the general increases across the board, there’s plenty of chatter regarding the price differences for eggs produced in different types of housing systems.