A blog about the latest developments in the food technology sector.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
MODERN MEAT INDUSTRY-THE DARK SIDE OF ITS IMPACT
The startling news about girls reaching early puberty in China captured the attention of people and the subject became a hot topic for discussion amongst medical and nutritional experts. Whether one likes it or not during the last 300 years the age of attaining puberty has been coming down and to day a significant segment of the female population cross this threshold at an age below 10 years. Though nutrition plays an important role in development of female hormones necessary for the transformation, there are other factors which also contribute to the early maturity syndrome being prevalent in many developed countries. The modern day foods from the processed food industry have been blamed for contributing to this phenomenon because of fat and calorie rich foods they produce and the chemicals used in raising many other foods. While obesity causes disturbed hormonal changes that can cause early puberty, use of synthetic hormones in dairy and meat animals also influence natural hormonal activity bringing about undesirable changes in body metabolism.
"While the childhood obesity problem is linked to the over consumption of processed food, drive-through, dinner in a bucket and the sheer volume of sugar and other junk our kids are eating, we must also look at the role growth hormones play in the size of our kids and the age they reach puberty. Wake up, people. If hormones can make an animal fat, what do you think will happen to us? We have always had access to junk food, but never in human history have we been the subjects of such an intense ingestion of chemicals and hormones. Dr. Andrew Weil states that more than two-thirds of the cattle raised in the U.S. are given hormones, usually testosterone and estrogen to boost growth. According to Cornell, there are actually six hormones commonly used in meat and dairy production: estradiol and progesterone (natural female sex hormones); testosterone (natural male sex hormone); zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengesterol (synthetic growth promoters that make animals grow faster). Not used on poultry or pigs, (but only because they don't promote meaningful growth in these animals), the FDA also allows the use of rbGH, another growth hormone, to promote more milk production in dairy cows. And here's where it gets really creepy. There is no monitoring of the female and male hormones, according to Cornell, because they are naturally produced by the animals so in theory, they can't really tell what hormones were produced and which were administered, so why have limits? But they set tolerance levels for the synthetic hormones. I feel safer; how about you?"
Another dimension to the problem is the suspected consequences of early puberty resulting in increased incidences of breast cancer amongst early matured females when they grow up. The logic of the industry is that it is using hormones which are already in the human body, forgetting that excess can cause unpredictable consequences. No doubt human body has the necessary mechanism to regulate production and metabolism of hormones but to what limit this can be pushed is not well known. Obesity relation is also disturbing because almost one third of the population in a country like the US are either obese or grossly overweight. While food intake can be controlled if there is will and determination, estrogen like substances ingested through food packed in plastic containers and bags pose another imponderable cause for anxiety.