Credit: (c) Richard Cornish
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Itâ€™s the secret they donâ€™t want you to know. Supermarket beef comes from cattle grown with hormone growth promotants (HGPs). These are small pellets that are injected under the ear of cattle. They contain anabolic steroids and encourage the animal to artificially put on more bulk. Not fat but muscle. Think body builders.
HGPs are used in feedlots and, depending on the season, 80% of supermarket beef comes from cattle raised in feedlots. The supermarkets donâ€™t advertise this. In fact they donâ€™t want you know. As a food writer it took me several weeks of pestering the supermarket companiesâ€™ representatives to give me a clear answer. They told me to ask the feedlot industry. This is like me asking Toyota what brand of petrol you put in your car. It was disingenuous in the least, probably evasive, perhaps deceitful.
Eventually they admitted that HGPs are used in raising cattle. When I published this is in a leading metropolitan newspaper I received emotive responses from farmers accusing me of being sensationalist and even a liar. The cattle farmers did not believe that HGPs were used in the cattle industry. They sign a statutory declaration that they have not used HGPS on their farms, so they were incredulous that HGPs were used in the feedlots to which they sold their cattle. When I presented them with the facts they were astonished.
I am not calling into question the safety of HGPs. That is for someone else to decide. What I am questioning is the lack of honesty in the beef and supermarket industries.
You know the funny thing? I wasnâ€™t investigating a story on hormones in cattle. It was only when someone in the beef industry bought up concerns about hormones in chicken that I asked questions about beef. The Irony was that the bloke who raised concerns about hormones was using them in his beef and the poultry industry does not use hormones.