Omaha Steaks, Kansas City Steaks, New York Steaks, Montana and Texas Steaks are all banned in Europe. Most steaks served in your favorite steakhouse are banned too. Hamburger, yes it is banned as well.
The U.S. beef cattle are fed synthetic hormones in the feedlots prior to slaughter. The chemicals are essentially growth hormones meant to increase the net amount of meat produced from each cow, but numerous concerns have been raised (by the National Cancer Association, no less) about the high incidence of hormonal cancers produced as well.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was one of the first hormones used to fatten feedlots. It was banned in 1979 after forty years of evidence that DES was cancer-causing. In its place, sex hormones, such as estradiol and progestins (synthetic forms of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone) have been implanted to virtually all feedlot cattle.
As early as 1989, the EEC (European Economic Community) put its collective foot down and said that’s not okay, and banned the treated beef from being sold in any E.U. country, though some of those restrictions have since relaxed depending on the hormones used. European consumers pressured the EEC to take this action to protect their health.
What kind of policies should be in place in the U.S. to address this problem?
Hormonal and other carcinogenic additives (pesticides from food fed to animals, some antibiotics, etc.) should be banned immediately, as should be all additives that are not proven effective and safe. Additive use and residue levels in animal products, including milk and eggs, should be subject to explicit labeling requirements. Until then, state initiatives that establish hormone-free certification for European shipments, should be applauded and extended domestically.
What can consumers do to protect themselves?
Consumers can boycott chemical treated meat in favor of untreated local meat and insist on the fight to know which additives have been used and what residues might exist. Consumers should speak with their butchers or grocers about hormone-free meat product availability.