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Growth hormones in beef and chicken?


Ask-the-Expert Online Conference

Question from JacobM: Which has the most growth hormone—chicken or beef? I try to eat organic whenever possible, but would like to know which one is better when organic is not available. Thank you.
Answers - Sue Heffelfinger I'm not an expert on this, but my understanding is that they're still using a growth hormone in beef production, even in milk. Chickens and pigs can have what they call growth additives, but not hormones. There is some risk that the feed for chickens and pigs may actually have beef in it that had growth hormone. That would have to be confirmed with the Department of Agriculture, but that's my understanding. Chicken may have contaminated feed, but it's illegal to add hormones directly to chickens.
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. Is it fair to say that occasionally having non-organic chicken or beef is a reasonable thing, for example at a restaurant?
Sue Heffelfinger I really think—again, it's only personal opinion—that one has to be reasonable with moderation in all things. I certainly don't avoid restaurants that don't serve organic meats. Reduction of your total meat consumption for many health reasons is a good idea. If you're fortunate enough to be able to afford and acquire organic meat, that's fine. But I think that you don't need to feel guilty if you can't afford it or if you want to go out and enjoy meat in a restaurant.
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. That's good, because I'm usually too tired to cook!

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