Hormonal growth promotants in food

Find out about hormonal growth promotants (HGPs) and how they're controlled in New Zealand.

What are HGPs?

The body produces hormones to stimulate cells or tissues into action. In the past, some beef producers have used HGPs to help beef cattle grow more quickly. HGPs may:

  • be exact copies of substances produced in animals
  • mimic the effects of natural hormones.

HGP use in New Zealand

HGPs have not been used in New Zealand since 2016. HGPs are only approved for use in beef cattle in New Zealand. They have not been approved for use in dairy cows. In the past, HGP use in New Zealand was always low.

Is food safe to eat if HGPs were used?

Some people see HGPs as unnatural additives. However, there's no scientific evidence that food produced using approved HGPs can make you sick or harm your health.

No labelling requirements

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) does not consider that meat and meat products produced using approved HGPs pose a health risk. Because of this, these products do not need to be specially labelled.

Rules for HGP use in New Zealand

The use of HGPs is regulated under the Animal Products (Regulated Control Scheme – Hormonal Growth Promotants) Notice [PDF, 419 KB]

Farmers and veterinarians must follow specific requirements for:

  • implanting HGPs
  • tagging animals that have been implanted, and
  • recording cattle movements.

HGPs can only be administered:

  • by a veterinarian
  • by a trained technician employed by a veterinarian, or
  • under the direct supervision of either.

How HGP use is controlled

We regularly audit:

  • farms
  • vet practices
  • slaughter premises.

We check that they're meeting HGP requirements. This includes the requirements to be registered on a national database.

If implanting and tagging requirements are not met, we may impose penalties or restrictions on the sale and supply for slaughter of the affected cattle.

Meat processors must also meet some requirements if they want to accept HGP-treated animals. This includes keeping treated animals and animal products that come from them separate from other animals and animal products. Because of this, meat processors generally will not accept HGP-treated animals for slaughter.

HGPs are used in many markets, including the United States and Australia. Certain overseas markets place restrictions on the import of products from animals treated with HGPs. To protect New Zealand's meat trade with these countries, HGP use is strictly controlled here.

Find out more

This page has information for food producers on using HGPs:

Using hormonal growth promotants

Who to contact

If you have questions about hormonal growth promotants, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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