The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
New Label Tells Consumers if Meat is Free of Growth-Enhancing Drugs
A new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certification program for livestock producers would permit them to market their products with a special label saying the meat contains no drugs called beta agonists—which some estimates say are fed to up to nearly 80 percent of U.S.-raised livestock.
Beta agonists are feed additives used to increase muscle mass and promote weight gain in livestock animals. The drugs are typically added to feed along with vitamins and given to animals while they’re in feedlots for a few weeks before slaughter.
Meat producers seeking the “Never Fed Beta Agonists" label would be required to document to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service that they haven’t given growth enhancers to their animals and that the meat contains no residues of the controversial drugs.
Commonly used growth-enhancing drugs in the beta-agonist family include ractopamine, which is fed to hogs and turkeys, and zilpaterol, which is fed to cattle. Trademarked beta agonists include Zilmax and Optaflexx, with one of the two being administered to 70 percent to 80 percent of the U.S. cattle herd in 2012, according to some estimates.
The use of beta agonists for finishing cattle became a concern over the summer when Merck, the makers of Zilmax, suspended sales due to animal welfare concerns from packers. Tyson Foods stopped buying Zilmax-fed cattle in September because cattle had been delivered to its plants having trouble walking or being unable to move.
In December 2012, animal-rights and food-safety groups petitioned the FDA to lower the allowed residue limits for ractopamine and study the drug’s effects on human health and animal welfare.
“The continued use and abuse of ractopamine in our food supply needs to be put in check,” said Elisabeth Holmes, staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety, which filed the 37-page petition in concert with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.
By Nanticha Ocharoenchai
In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
By Whitney E. Akers
- "The Game Changers" is a new documentary on Netflix that posits a vegan diet can improve athletic performance in professional athletes.
- Limited studies available show that the type of diet — plant-based or omnivorous — doesn't give you an athletic advantage.
- We talked to experts about what diet is the best for athletic performance.
Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.