What are hormones?

Hormones are naturally occurring chemicals found in all living organisms. In the body, they are naturally produced by an organ and carried in a bodily fluid to another organ or tissue where they carry out their specific purpose. All animals, including humans, naturally produce significant amounts of hormones during their lifetime because they are needed for the body to grow and function normally.

Since the 1950’s the Food and Drug Administration has approved a number of hormones for use in beef cattle and sheep, including natural estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and their synthetic versions. These hormones increase the animals’ growth rate and their efficiency in converting the feed they eat into meat.

The FDA’s stringent approval process focuses on ensuring the food products from the treated animals are safe for human consumption and that the hormones do not harm the treated animal or the environment. The FDA establishes a safe level of hormones in meat for human consumption based on extensive scientific study and review. All approved implant products have a zero day withdrawal period, meaning the animal is safe for human consumption at any time after it has been implanted.

Labels that claim meat or milk is hormone free are misleading and are not approved by the FDA because all meat and milk contains naturally occurring hormones. Beef that is labeled as “naturally raised” must be grown without the use of implants, but will still contain the naturally occurring hormones present in all food animals.