Antibiotics and Hormones

Many people have questions about how antibiotics and hormones are used in beef production.

Antibiotics are used responsibly by the beef industry for the health and welfare of the animal. Antibiotics can be natural or synthetic substances and are used to treat or prevent infections caused by bacteria.

With a long history, antibiotics are recognized as a necessary tool in both human and veterinary medicine.

By being proactive, early detection and treatment of sick cattle with an antibiotic reduces both individual animal suffering and the risk of disease spreading to other animals in the herd.

Veterinary drugs are regulated by the Food and Drugs Act © and are approved through Health Canada before they are licensed for use.

Drugs are not administered to an animal or group of animals without oversight by a large animal veterinarian.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regularly tests meat at the processing level for antibiotic residues. 99% of meat tested has no antibiotic residue, and meat that tests positive is removed from the food chain. This means that all meat that is available for the consumer is deemed to be “antibiotic free”.

All plants and animals have hormones naturally in their systems. Your body produces hormones no matter what you eat.

Hormone implants in cattle enhance the production of natural hormones, which directs growth towards muscle and away from fat.

This means less feed is needed for the animal to gain weight. The result is fewer resources are used to produce beef, with smaller impacts on the environment and your grocery bill.

The Canadian cattle industry has developed various programs like Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) for producers to ensure the responsible and safe use of antibiotics, vaccines, hormones, and other products.

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