Hormonal growth promotants (HGPs) – naturally occurring hormones or synthetic alternatives – are used in cattle to optimise weight gain and help produce the highest quality red meat, without causing any stress or discomfort to the animal.
HGPs are used to improve the average daily weight gain of cattle, help cattle convert feed efficiently and improve carcase leanness. Used safely in Australia for more than 30 years (and in accordance with the Food Standards Code), the hormones are placed under the skin on the back of the ear, and slowly released over a period of 100 to 200 days, depending on the product used. (Source)
HGPs include hormones like oestrogen and testosterone that occur naturally in many animals and some plants.
It’s up to individual beef producers whether they use HGPs or not. That decision depends on season, customer and market requirements, and cost versus benefit.
Some producers use HGPs to increase cattle productivity (producing more beef from less resources), which reduces the environmental impact per kilogram of beef produced.
HGPs are used on about 40 per cent of Australian cattle and annually add $210 million to the value of the beef industry. (Source)
There are no safety concerns for humans if HGPs are used when raising cattle. HGPs for use in beef cattle are approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). HGPs undergo a rigorous pre-approval process where the safety to animals, humans and the environment is assessed.
All international bodies and national regulatory agencies, except the European Commission, have concluded that residues of registered HGPs do not pose a threat to consumers when HGPs are used according to good veterinary practice. While the European Commission currently bans HGP use, the World Trade Organisation has determined that the ban is unjustified and not based on any scientific evidence.