By Mike Callicrate
While we are rightly concerned about steroid use among our athletes, we serve our families beef produced with the same performance enhancing chemical compounds. Cattle are implanted with various growth promoting compounds from Ralgro (Zeranol), “which has been found to be biologically active in stimulating breast cancer cell growth,” to Revalor (Trenbolone-Acetate), one of the cattle implants that has gained popularity among bodybuilders.
With beef, as in sports, it’s about the pursuit of performance. Advocates of big-is-better corporate controlled agriculture are blinded to consumer health and animal welfare concerns. Synthetic growth stimulants produce bigger cattle more cheaply, which like most technology today especially benefits those few companies who either supply the technology or who are controlling the milk, meat, and grain markets. Steroid treated cattle will be approximately 150 pounds heavier at processing, and with the additional use of antibiotics, produce a market ready animal for as much as $150 less than non-implanted, antibiotic free animals.
Adding to the negatives on growth stimulants in cattle production is the fact that the meat from animals treated with these powerful weight gain compounds loses tenderness, digestibility and flavor. This problem doesn’t worry big packers, processors, and retailers. They simply “pre-digest” the meat with methods ranging from mechanical to chemical tenderization. Lost flavor is recovered with chemical flavoring agents. Margins are pumped up with moisture weight gain when water is used to deliver the chemicals into the muscle tissue. Wal-Mart’s Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP) typically adds 12% solution.
Cattle treated with the various growth promoting compounds exhibit many of the same characteristics as juiced up athletes including increased muscle size and behavioral changes.
Eliminating the use of these chemical compounds in U.S. beef production would improve beef’s eating quality and demand. Export markets would expand. The EU bans beef produced with synthetic hormones and steroids. Cattle would weigh less at harvest time resulting in fewer pounds of production and better prices for cattle producers. Most of all, mothers would feel better about the beef they feed their families.