A beef cow standing in a field

The Truth About Hormone Use in Agriculture

Hormone Use

All mammals produce hormones naturally, so all animal products will contain some hormones. Beef cattle are the only animals in Canada that can be given additional hormonal substances. Producers who raise beef cattle may choose to use hormones to help the animals use their feed more efficiently and produce leaner meat.122 Hormonal substances have been approved and widely used in the production of healthy beef cattle since the 1960’s.123

Hormones our bodies produce daily
  Estrogen (nanograms) Progesterone (nanograms)
Prepubescent Girls 54,000 250,000
Prepubescent Boys 41,600 150,000
Non-pregnant women 192,000 – 1,192,000 420,000 – 19,600,000
Men 136,000 410,000
Hormones we may consume in food
  Estrogen (nanograms) Progesterone (nanograms)
Beef from cattle not given hormonal growth promotants 100g 1.5 27
Beef from cattle given hormonal growth promotants 100g 2.2 44
Soybean oil, 15 mL 28,773 Not Applicable
Cabbage, 100 g 2,381 Not Applicable
Milk, 250 mL 35.9 Not Applicable

Source: Canada Beef Inc.

Who Monitors the Safety of Hormone Use?

Hormone use in food animals is regulated by Health Canada under Canada’s Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. There are three natural hormones and three synthetic hormones which have been approved for use by Health Canada. Hormones are approved for use only if they are “effective at their purpose, safe for the animals, and result in food products which are safe for humans to eat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency tests to ensure that there are zero residues of synthetic hormones in beef.”124 There is little difference in the amount of natural hormones in the meat of beef cattle that receive added hormones and those that do not.125

Quick Facts:

No added hormones are used in the production of milk118poultry119, eggs120, or pork121 in Canada.