Minnesota Farmer

Estrogen in beef
August 7, 2010, 10:12 am
Filed under: Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, organic, Soybeans | Tags: , , , ,

I recently came across a post that had someone complaining about the “massive” amounts of hormones, mainly estrogen, that are allowed to be “injected” into cattle to make them grow faster.  I know that the amount is not massive as was posted by this uninformed person, so I did some digging.  This is what I found.

“As an example, FDA has set a tolerance on estrogen levels in beef from cattle receiving an estrogen-containing implant.  The safe level is 21 billionths of a gram. On average, a serving of beef actually has a fraction of that allowable level (.3 billionths of a gram) nearly 57,000 times lower than what the FDA allows, and thousands of times lower than what our bodies naturally produce, not to mention a fraction of what is present in many other foods such as soybean oil, cabbage, cereals and grains.

  • The scientific conclusions of the FDA, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the world’s food safety body, indicate that the miniscule amount of estrogen in beef from cattle receiving implants is well below any level that would be of significance to humans.
  • In most instances, estrogen levels in beef from implanted cattle are so low, that it’s virtually impossible to detect.  Consequently the data illustrates the use of estrogen-containing implants has no impact on humans.”

Dr. Elizabeth Parker, DVM

Further research on estrogen levels in foods did not even have beef on the list.  “Foods that have phytoestrogens (foods that the body can “mistake”  for estrogen) include all soy foods made from soy beans: soy milk, commercial soy desserts, tofu curd, soy powder protein, tempeh and “mock” hamburgers and hot dogs made from soybeans.
Other estrogenic foods include alfalfa, apples, beets, carrots, cherries, chickpeas, citrus fruits, black-eyed peas, eggs, cinnamon, celery, dairy foods, eggs, fennel seed, flax seeds, garlic, potatoes, wheat, yams, pomegranates, red beans, sunflower seeds, tomatoes and sage.”

Read more: What Foods Contain Estrogen Hormones? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_4782474_foods-contain-estrogen-hormones_.html#ixzz0vw9KUHaZ

So there you have it.  Hormone levels are much higher in many foods than they are in beef, and are found in many meat substitutes at a higher level than in beef fed or implanted with hormones.



6 Comments so far
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Amazing that soy – also used for hormone replacement therapy! – is overlooked while blaming livestock for hormone issues.

Comment by SlowMoneyFarm

Not to mention the “massive” amounts of pharmaceuticals that utilize hormones in much higher doses. These pills are swallowed daily by all sorts of people, and are often designed to totally undermine your body’s natural course. Where is the army that argues against that unnatural bit of supplementation?
However, I have to criticize the use of implants a little. The more expensive the technology that the beef (or any agricultural) industry employs, the wider the gap between under-developed farmers and the ones with cable and three cars. We’re in an international market now.. and it’s upsetting that things can’t operate a little more fairly. Maybe that would be the major benefit of organic production? It requires high skill, but little funding.

Comment by lavantgardener

If you check into the hormone dosage used, you will find that it is much less than the body already makes. I would not call that “massive.”
Perhaps you should check with organic farmers about the money needed to farm organically. My friends who farm organically use more machinery than I do. They spend much more time working and that work is much more time sensitive. Some of that equipment is very specialized and thus not something easily obtained. A mistake on an organic farm can mean the loss of the entire crop, or make it not eligible for the premium they need to pay those extra bills. Blemished fruits and veggies are more common and do not bring as good of a price or must be destroyed.

Comment by Michael

Sure, it’s less, but the daily dosage of estrogen in the average birth control is in the thousandths, (not billionths) of grams. So compound that difference in numbers with the fact that so many American women take birth control (just an example drug, by the way) DAILY and to me.. that is a “massive” difference. My point is.. the content in end-of-production beef is far far less. In short, I agreed with your statement from the article.
As to organic farming, I can only speak to my experiences in West Africa, the rural South-Eastern states, the student facilities at Kansas State and my current work in Maryland. Though only two of the four jobs were close to any kind of sub-urban or metropolitan center, CSAs, markets and alternate sources of income that included tourism, preserved products, soaps, milk etc. kept the families (or staff) that ran the operations reasonably content. I simply think that farming should be about growing enough food to suit your needs, not about being in the top percentile of profits. But we could go on and on about that. Coming from a long line of corn and tobacco farmers, I know that small-scale (by the most modern definition) farming vs. mechanical or large operation farming is a constant source of debate. I just try to stick up for some of the folks I’ve worked with. They want food and enough money to feed their families, but they can’t compete with American food surpluses, market manipulation, international import prices, or the constant development of chemicals that must accompany the most recent high-yield seed varieties. Since the Green Revolution wasn’t such a big help in the third-world, the organic or agroecological one might be.
…But we digress.

Comment by lavantgardener

There is plenty of evidence that any kind of advance in agriculture, even going to what we call organic farming here, is a huge advance in the way agriculture is done in the third world.
There are room for many kinds of agriculture in the world. In the case of farming in the U.S. we have lots of land and very few that want to farm it. What seems large to many is pure survival here.

Comment by Michael

Very true! The difficulty with surviving in this way is that it makes it harder for someone else to survive. Someone who, for no better reason than being born in the wrong location, suffers from hunger while we let strawberries rot on the ground in Florida. If we’re growing so much food that we can give it away or name our prices, we’re simply growing too much, too fast. I’m not saying it’s the farmer’s fault. I doubt any mid-size American farm is worked by someone trying to strike gold and build a wave pool behind their house. I’m saying it’s unfortunate that we could all be producing in similar ways, profiting almost equally, eating almost as nutritionally.. but instead, the American farm has to plant 500 acres, inject hormones and withhold from the market to pay the bills, and the Ghanaian farmer isn’t able to acquire basic tools without foreign assistance. Believe me.. I don’t blame the farmer for doing what he thinks he has to. I just wish we could adjust our priorities. To me, a shift in the market toward organic production might help. It isn’t a cure-all, but it might level out a very imbalanced market.

Comment by lavantgardener

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