Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

New Label Tells Consumers if Meat is Free of Growth-Enhancing Drugs

Food
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.

A feedlot in the U.S. Midwest. Photo credit:
Shutterstock

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.

 

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock" — an estimate of how close humanity is to the apocalypse — remains at 100 seconds to zero for 2021. Eva Hambach / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

One hundred seconds to midnight. That's how close humanity is to the apocalypse, and it's as close as the world has ever been, according to Wednesday's annual announcement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group that has been running its "Doomsday Clock" since the early years of the nuclear age in 1947.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 13th North Atlantic right whale calf with their mother off Wassaw Island, Georgia on Jan. 19, 2010. @GeorgiaWild, under NOAA permit #20556

North Atlantic right whales are in serious trouble, but there is hope. A total of 14 new calves of the extremely endangered species have been spotted this winter between Florida and North Carolina.

Read More Show Less

Trending

There are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients. Marko Geber / Getty Images

By Yoram Vodovotz and Michael Parkinson

The majority of Americans are stressed, sleep-deprived and overweight and suffer from largely preventable lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight or obese contributes to the 50% of adults who suffer high blood pressure, 10% with diabetes and additional 35% with pre-diabetes. And the costs are unaffordable and growing. About 90% of the nearly $4 trillion Americans spend annually for health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases and mental health conditions. But there are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients.

Read More Show Less
Candles spell out, "Fight for 1 point 5" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on Dec. 11, 2020, in reference to 1.5°C of Earth's warming. The event was organized by the Fridays for Future climate movement. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations' Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps.

Read More Show Less
A monarch butterfly is perched next to an adult caterpillar on a milkweed plant, the only plant the monarch will lay eggs on and the caterpillar will eat. Cathy Keifer / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

Fall used to be the time when millions of monarch butterflies in North America would journey upwards of 2,000 miles to warmer winter habitat.

Read More Show Less