What do veterinary drugs do to food-producing animals?
What do veterinary drugs do to food-producing animals?

Food-producing animals such as hogs, cattle, and poultry have to undergo certain treatments that include administering drugs. This prompts the question as to what these drugs do to these animals and if drugs have any affect on the meat that we eat.

Steroid Hormones

Since 1950, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the use of steroids to stimulate growth in cattle and hogs. These hormones include progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone and their synthetic forms.  They are usually formulated in the form of pellets or implants.  These are placed on the underside of the animal´s ear or under the skin.

The condition for FDA’s approval is for the hormone to prove that the food obtained from the animal is safe for human consumption.  Besides increasing growth rate, these hormones also increase the efficiency with which they convert the food they eat into meat. They do not have any harmful effects on humans. The truth is that the amount of these hormones applied synthetically is not significant in comparison the amount of natural hormones the animal produces by itself.

There are no steroid hormones for growth approved for cows, pigs, or veal calves. 


These are widely used in food-producing animals.  Just like humans, antibiotics are prescribed to fight the persistence and emergence of bacteria. The issue here rises when the antibiotic applied to an animal creates a stronger bacterial strain that can present some antibiotic resistant infections in humans.  Therefore, it is important to keep antibiotics effective against the fight of infection in animals.

Other veterinary prescriptions

The FDA regulates what medications can be administered to animals and which may not. They are given to animals that are sick, to groups of animals that are sick, and to animals that are at risk of getting sick. In the specific case of food-producing animals, regulations go in favor of preserving human health.