FDA-Approved Hormones and Other Chemicals in Chicken
About the Author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)
Hormones In Chicken - Is It a Myth?
Health conscious people are always trying to find the best foods to feed their bodies. Consumers are moving from chemically sprayed and genetically modified produce to organically grown vegetables and fruits. Hydrogenated vegetable oils have been replaced with extra virgin olive and coconut oils. Beef is even exchanged for chicken breast due to fat content. But, is your choice of chicken all it's cracked up to be?
Hormones, chemicals, and drugs have been used for the growth of animals for human food consumption since the 1950s.1 Steroid hormones are made into pellets and implanted behind the ears of certain food-producing animals. Though the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes claim that the dosages are too low to affect humans, there is still great concern by the population that consumption of these meats is not healthy. With four well-known companies selling more than 50 percent of the chicken we consume in the United States, many want to know if these same chemical and drugs are used on chicken.
Estrogen - A hormone primarily for female reproductive growth, bone strength, and menstrual cycle regulation.
Progesterone - A hormone primarily in female for menstrual cycle regulation and maintaining pregnancy,
Testosterone - A hormone primarily for male reproductive growth, as well as bone and muscle strength.
Natural Hormones in Meat
Since 1950, the FDA has approved naturally-occurring hormones in meats. Estradiol (estrogen), progesterone, and testosterone are the names of some of these hormones. The FDA claims that hormones are necessary for normal development, growth, and reproduction. Because they are naturally produced in the human body, they declare that hormone induced meats are not harmful for human consumption.
POLL: Natural Hormones in Chicken
Do you think natural hormones should be fed to chicken?
Trenbolone Acetate - A steroid hormone used for muscle growth and appetite in livestock.
Zeranol - A non-steroidal estrogen antagonist used for growth in livestock.
Synthetic Hormones in Meats
In addition to natural-occurring hormones fed to animals, the FDA has approved several synthetic hormones in meats. Some of the synthetic hormones used include trenbolone acetate and zeranol. The FDA declares that safe levels are used in meats for human consumption. What do you think?
While the FDA states that they have not approved "steroid" hormones for chicken (though approved for beef cattle and sheep), they have allowed the use of antibiotics on chicken which have similar results as steroid hormones.
There's no doubt that antibiotics are necessary when either humans or animals get a bacterial infection. However, the use of antibiotics on livestock, including chicken, have risen into the millions. What's the reason? Antibiotics have also been shown to increase growth rate in meats and chicken.
Penicillin and tetracycline are two of the most widely used antibiotics. According to Dr. David Wallinga earlier this year [Huffington Post], 38 percent of all penicillin sales and 98 percent of all tetracycline sales were for livestock. The latest statistics gathered in 2011 indicate that 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics were used on animals while 7.3 million was used for humans.
Myth? Don't buy the lie!
Chicken producers have spent countless dollars on advertising that hormones fed to chickens in a myth. Don't buy into their propaganda. All you have to do is look at two packages of chicken at your local grocery store. Compare the big manufacturer-produced chicken to organic. Do you see a difference in size, texture, and color? They may not allow actual or what they call 'naturally occurring hormones' in chicken. However, the fact is the FDA has approved antibiotics and other chemicals that act as hormones in the chicken we consume.
Why Are Antibiotics and Hormones in Meats Bad for Health?
Have you ever wondered why food manufacturers are using antibiotics and hormones in the chicken and meat you eat? Will it harm your body if you consume it? Unfortunately, business is a profit-seeking entity. It's also unfortunate that more than 50 percent of the chicken and other meats offered at your local grocery store can cause harm to your health. Following are just a few health issues that can arise from eating meats produced with hormones and antibiotics:
- early puberty in children
- breast, prostate, and other cancers
- inability to fight bacterial infections
Other Chemicals in Chicken
On top of the hormones and antibiotics fed to chicken, numerous chemicals are added. Following are just a few:
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). As a food additive that enhances flavor, it is typically used in Chinese food, canned vegetables and soups, and processed meats. Because it crosses the blood-brain barrier after consumption, it has been known to cause neuro-toxic symptoms such as headache; flushing; sweating; facial pressure, tightness, numbness, and tingling; heart palpitation; chest pains; nausea; weakness; and sometimes even seizures. It can even be fatal when combined with other chemically altered food additives such as aspartame.
- Sodium Erythorbate. As a food additive, it is typically used in meats, poultry, and soft drinks. It cures meats and chicken quickly as well as preserves color.
- Trisodium Phosphate. Though it is typically used as a cleaning agent, stain remover, and degreaser, it is also used as a food additive. It is considered a "strong" chemical and poison that can cause a variety of symptoms when large amounts are either swallowed, breathed in, or spilled onto the skin.
- Roxarsone. An organic arsenic, it is used in chicken feed to ward off parasitic diseases. High levels of arsenic are fatal. In lower levels, it can cause a host of symptoms including nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of "pins and needles" in hands and feet.
- Salt. Though sodium can be beneficial to our health, too much can be detrimental. Sodium helps to balance body water levels as well as contract muscles. However, anything more than a teaspoon per day is too much, and most Americans are already doubling or quadrupling their intake already through pre-packaged, processed, and fast foods. In the case of salt-injected chicken, a four ounce serving equates to a serving of fast food French fries.
Buy Organic Chicken to Stay Healthy
Now that you know what is in your chicken, what can you do to stay healthy? Buy organic chicken. As you can see in the picture above, both chickens are the same age. The smaller chicken has a healthy pink and white skin while the larger, chemically-induced chicken has a gross yellow skin. Make sure the chicken you buy is labeled organic with the official seal. Does it cost more? Most organic products do cost more. However, you may find organic chicken more economical when on sale. There is nothing more important than your health. You may pay a little more for healthy food now, or you will pay a much higher cost later with prescription medications and other medical treatments. Why not choose the healthier option? You can find a farmer near you who takes the time to care for his chickens as well as your health. A few have been listed below, but you are welcome to to check out Local Harvest for other farms near you.
Sustainable run farm, producing our own free range eggs and meat chicken that are only given organic feed and pastured in our fields.
Specializing in pasture raised chicken and free-range eggs. We do not use any synthetic pesticides, growth stimulants, hormones, or antibiotics.
No hormone and no antibiotics. We are dedicated to sustainable practices and are USDA Certified Organic growers.
La Finca is a diverse landscape of fields, forest, and wetlands where we grow fresh, certified organic produce, and raise chickens.
Pastured poultry come from Amish farmers in Holmes County. The poultry is fed non-gmo grain, and housed in pens that are moved daily onto fresh grass.
Organic beef, pork, turkey, free range chicken, and eggs are available.
"You Won't Find A Cleaner Feeding System, Anywhere!" Heritage-Breed Chicken, Game Birds, Turkey, Pork, Beef, Goat, Lamb, and Fresh Eggs.
A small, family-run farm dedicated to providing healthful foods to our family and yours, specializing in eggs and pastured poultry.
A consistent supply of local, healthy Florida beef, lamb, pork, goat and chicken, available throughout the year.
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About the author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For over 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for more than 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 20+ year cancer survivor.
 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2011, February 8). Steroid Hormone Implants Used for Growth in Food-Producing Animals. Animal and Veterinary. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm055436.htm.