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Is HGP-treated beef safe to eat?

7 September 2010

Yes. HGP-treated beef is safe to eat because the APVMA conducts a thorough safety assessment before any HGP can be applied to cattle in Australia. This assessment reflects public health standards set by the Department of Health and Ageing and results in instructions for use on the product that ensure people eating beef will not be harmed over their lifetime.

More detail

The APVMA notes a media release distributed by Coles this week (external PDF, 327kb) in which they announced that they would begin sourcing Hormonal Growth Promotant (HGP)-free beef from January 2011.

Below is some information about the APVMA’s role and the use of HGPs in producing beef in Australia.

What are HGPs?

An HGP is a naturally occurring hormone, or synthetic alternative, that is used to promote weight gain and improve the typically slow rate at which cattle convert grass into meat.

The use of HGPs helps this conversion so cattle can be processed earlier, when the meat is more tender. They are only used where the stockfeed quality is good and farmers can gain the maximum benefit.

HGPs applied to cattle in Australia contain naturally occurring hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) or synthetic hormones (trenbolone acetate and zeranol).

What is the APVMA’s role?

The role of the APVMA in relation to HGPs is to ensure that they are safe for consumers, are not harmful to animals and effective when used in accordance with the label instructions.

The APVMA does not assess or regulate the eating quality of beef, which Coles referred to in their media release.

What levels of HGPs are found in beef?

When assessing and approving the way veterinary medicines (such as HGPs) are used, the APVMA provides an assurance that cattle treated with HGPs can produce beef that is safe to eat. This is highlighted by the fact that the amount of oestrogen derived from 77kg of HGP-treated beef is no more than the amount of natural oestrogen in one chicken egg.

The safety and quality assurance of Australian beef monitoring is undertaken by the National Residues Survey (which is administered by the Australian Government) and Meat and Livestock Australia (industry coordinated monitoring).

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Last updated on 7 September, 2010