It is forbidden to give hormones and substances with growth-stimulating effects to pigs and other animals yielding marketable produce in the EU. Only once (in 2014) was a forbidden hormone found in a slaughter pig in connection with official control in Denmark.
In the EU, it has since 1981 been forbidden to give hormones and substances with hormone-like growth-stimulating effects to animals yielding marketable produce (Directive 81/602/EU). The prohibition applies to animals for production purposes and also includes meat from animals for consumption that is exported to the EU from third countries.
In one particular case in 2014, residues from forbidden hormones (17beta-19-Nortestosterone) were found in a pig. It was not possible to establish the cause for this. The occurrence of forbidden hormones etc. in the Danish surveillance programme for Danish meat is insignificant.
Pork 2013: At the official control, 4.225 samples were analysed from pigs and pig populations for forbidden hormones and growth-stimulating substances with a negative result.
Outside the EU, growth-stimulating sex hormones are used in pig production
The growth-stimulating sex hormones (testosterone, progesterone and 17ß-oestradiol, zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate) are used extensively in livestock production in many countries (e.g. in the US, Canada, Hong Kong and countries in South America). The effect of the relevant hormones is to achieve a significant improvement of the feed conversion efficiency in the treated animals. The treatment may consist of implantation of a hormone capsule in the ear (that is always discarded at slaughtering).
ß-agonists are used in the human medical practice to treat certain types of asthma for effective expansion of the bronchi of the lungs. However, the substances also have many other effects. In actual practice, it has, for examples, emerged that substances given orally to animals cause muscle reproduction and a reduction of the muscle tissues’ fat anabolism (the growth-stimulating effect). This effect can be seen in cattle, sheep, pigs and birds. The substances are accumulated primarily in the liver and in the muscle tissue.