A reader wrote to me and asked:
What do you think "No hormones added**" means? Saw this on chicken and at first was happy there were no hormones. Then I thought, "wait a minute!" The asterisks made me nervous. Should I be?
There are a lot of details involved in raising poultry and livestock of all kinds, which is one reason I (Elisabeth) do my own personal best to get to know the farmers, either directly, or through reputation. Shopping local is one of the best ways to do this, or by researching other farms who are doing something cool and interesting, like biodynamic practices.
But here is what I do know: the USDA prohits the use of added hormones in Pork and Poultry while allowing the practice in beef and lamb.
The "**" (asterisks) the reader mentioned will refer to something else that is on the label of that particular product - usually the explanation will be at the bottom. My guess is that it will be this language: "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones" since "no hormones added" cannot be used without this companion statement by law for pork or poultry.
Hormones CAN be used in beef or lamb to increase milk production and as growth promoters, which is crazy. So it's best if you can, to find a farmer whose feed and husbandry practices are well known and respected esp. for beef/lamb.
The term "no hormones administered" may be approved for use on the label of beef products if sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no hormones have been used in raising the animals.
Please feel free to help this reader and all of us out with your knowledge and experience about hormones in meat/poutry production!