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Growth Hormones and Other Drugs in Meat Products

Cattle producers use growth-promoting hormones to produce more of the lean beef that consumers demand while using fewer resources, such as land and feed. As of January 2013, 30 growth-promoting products were being marketed in the United States. An animal given growth enhancers gains weight more rapidly and produces a leaner product. Reaching market weight sooner results in a reduction in the cost of beef production and lower prices to consumers. Growth hormones in beef are primarily administered using a small pelleted implant that is placed under the skin on the back of the ear of the animal. The implants are designed to release the hormone slowly over time into the animal’s bloodstream. The hormones in growth-promoting implants include estrogens, androgens, and progestins and have ...

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