MINNETONKA, MINNESOTA - URBAN myths occasionally get so exaggerated that they need to be corrected.

One of these myths that reached Feedstuffs FoodLink recently is that hormones fed to chickens break down in chicken meat and cause women who eat the meat to experience more hot flashes.
This is simply not true.

First, chicken growers do not feed or otherwise provide hormones to their birds. Eating chicken has nothing to do with early menarche, hot flashes or early development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Egg and turkey producers also do not provide hormones to their animals.

Some beef cattle producers and some dairy producers do administer synthetic hormones to their cattle to improve growth and milk production that, in turn, contains or even reduces the cost of beef and milk. However, these are administered at extremely low dosages that are approved as safe by the Food & Drug Administration.

Estradiol, progesterone and testosterone are endogenous (naturally occurring) steroidal hormones that are produced actually in large quantities by every man, woman and child throughout their lifetimes and are needed for proper physiological functioning and maturation.

FDA is responsible for making sure that animal drugs are effective and safe for animals and that food from treated animals is safe for people to consume. As mentioned, FDA has approved certain hormones for use at low concentrations to improve gain and other productivity for cattle and has determined that any residue levels in food are safe.

No steroidal hormones are approved for poultry.

All endogenous hormone products marketed as beef growth promotants for use in cattle are formulated as implantable pellets that are injected subcutaneously under the skin of an animal's ear and release the hormones at a constant but slow rate.

Because of this deliberate and slow release, FDA has said no pre-slaughter withdrawal of these added endogenous hormones is necessary to protect public health. Rather, FDA emphasized that consumers are not at risk from eating food from animals treated with these compounds because the amount of the added hormone in their edible tissues is no different from the amount of hormone in the edible tissues of non-treated cattle.

For that matter, FDA has said the amount of the added hormone is no different from the amount of endogenous hormones that are naturally produced within our own bodies.

FDA does permit the administration of certain other synthetic compounds that are not naturally occurring and are not metabolized as efficiently as naturally produced steroidal hormones.

In these cases, FDA required extensive testing to determine safety parameters for residues in food and requires that the residue levels be well within those parameters.

The FDA document on which this is based is available at www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm055436.htm.

Here's the point: Hormone myth corrected

MODERN U.S. agriculture produces the most abundant, most affordable and safest food supply in the world. Behind this are research, technology and innovation, including the use of growth hormones in beef production that are approved by the Food & Drug Administration as safe for cattle and for people who consume beef from those animals. This allows cattle producers to produce more beef from fewer cattle using fewer resources.

Improvements have been made across all production sectors - livestock, poultry and aquaculture - in animal genetics, health and nutrition and housing and production systems that have allowed producers to produce more fish, pork, poultry, milk and eggs for the expanding global population from fewer animals and fewer resources.

Furthermore, not only has animal production come through for U.S. and global consumers, but so have corn, soybean, wheat and other crop production where farmers are getting more out of every acre than ever before to feed animals and nourish people. The data showing how many people are fed by just one farmer are amazing.

It should also be noted that Americans spend just 10% of their disposable income on food and beverages each year - the lowest amount of any country in the world. By comparison, Chinese consumers spend 26% of their disposable income on food. Americans should think about what they couldn't afford if it were not for modern U.S. agriculture and the research, technology and innovation - and hard work - it represents.

As Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the U.S., said: "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from a corn field."

Additional information on these topics is available at www.FeedstuffsFoodLink.com.

SOURCE: Feedstuffs Foodlink