Export meat processors will generally not accept HGP-implanted cattle for slaughter. Farmers wishing to use HGPs should first ensure that they will be able to have the cattle slaughtered.
What is an HGP?
An HGP is any veterinary medicine containing either natural or synthetic hormones sold for the purpose of increasing muscle tone, growth rate, weight gain, or feed efficiency of animals.
Why it's important to control HGP use
The use of HGPs is strictly controlled to protect the New Zealand international meat trade. In many markets, such as the USA and Australia, HGPs are considered safe and are used extensively. However, in China, the European Union (EU), and other countries, HGPs are perceived as unnatural additives and are banned. HGP use needs to be controlled and tracked so that meat from implanted animals can't be exported to markets where HGPs are banned.
How hormone growth promotant (HGP) use is controlled
HGPs are only approved for use in beef cattle under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act. It is illegal to use HGPs:
- in dairy cattle that are or will be used for milk production
- in bobby calves
- in any other species
- contrary to instructions on the label.
Only a veterinarian (or a trained technician under their direct control) can authorise and administer HGP use.
HGPs are managed through the HGP Regulated Control Scheme (RCS). Under the RCS, treated beef cattle must have:
- a NAIT-approved RFID tag that is registered in the NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) online system
- an HGP identification ear tag
- their movements recorded and tracked up until slaughter.
Both veterinarians and farmers must be aware of their RCS responsibilities which are outlined in:
- Animal Products (Regulated Control Scheme – Hormonal Growth Promotants) Notice [PDF, 419 KB]
- HGP Regulated Control Scheme requirements
- Vet responsibilities when implanting HGPs
- Farmer HGP responsibilities
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) regularly samples production animals for HGPs and visits farms across New Zealand to make sure everyone is meeting requirements.
Safety of HGPs
There is no scientific evidence of any detrimental impact on human health from eating meat and meat products that have been produced using approved HGPs.
It is MPI's policy that consumers should be provided with labelling information where there is a demonstrated food safety risk, so they can make informed choices about the food they eat. MPI doesn't consider that approved HGPs have any demonstrable food risks.