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Hormones and antibiotics in food supply

Related Terms

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Background

  • Well-being is linked to access to a healthy food supply. Currently, the farming industry is experiencing pressure to produce animals and vegetation destined for consumption at a predetermined weight and size, in the shortest amount of time and at the lowest possible cost. This demand has lead to the use of growth-promotion techniques, including low levels of antibiotics in feed, as well as naturally occurring and man-made steroid hormones during the growth phase.
  • There has been significant public scrutiny concerning the use of hormones and antibiotics to help produce meat and dairy products since their long-term effects on human health are unclear. Using such antibiotics and hormones has also remained a controversial issue among academic and industry experts.
  • Currently, in the United States, a product is considered "organic" if the food, farm, handlers, and processors of that food all meet specific criteria from the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Meat is designated to be organic if the animals do not receive any antibiotics or growth hormones. Genetically modified or bioengineered animals and vegetation are not allowed to be labeled organic, nor are food products that have been treated with radiation.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics, or antimicrobials, are natural compounds made by microorganisms, which may be used to destroy bacteria that cause infections and diseases. A wide variety of antibiotics are used in agriculture and medicine alike. They are classified based on their chemical composition as well as the class of microorganisms against which they are effective.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Health Impact/Safety

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Future Research or Applications

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.