Citing consumer preferences and meat quality, Australian supermarket giant Coles is set to begin selling only hormone-free beef in the new year.

Coles is the first national food retailer in Australia to sell only hormone growth promoting (HGP) free beef, and some in the industry are concerned that other large chains might follow suit.

Australian farmers have used growth promotants to speed muscle growth for decades and Australian public health officials maintain that they are safe for consumers, but an industry survey leaked to the Sydney Telegraph shows that consumers are extremely wary of the practice.

The survey of 1,000 people, conducted by Meat and Livestock Australia, found that almost half of respondents would consume less meat if hormones were used raising the cattle, 16 percent said they would never touch the meat again and 15 percent said they would actively warn others to not consume beef raised with hormones.

According to the supermarket chain’s general manager of meat, Allister Watson, Coles has worked with its beef suppliers for over 18 months to build a hormone-free supply chain.

“Coles is working with our livestock suppliers to ensure our customers get the best quality fresh food possible,” Watson said in a company release. “Coles is aware of widespread consumer concerns about additives in food and livestock and animal welfare practices.”

The supermarket chain is also planning to absorb the additional production costs for hormone-free beef.

“We’ve agreed with our suppliers that Coles will absorb any additional production costs that arise from moving to HGP-free beef and we’ll ensure that Coles on-shelf beef prices are not affected by this move,” added Watson.

A local Australian newspaper reported that Australian Cattle Council chief David Inall accused Coles of needlessly frightening customers.

One of Australia’s national science agency’s livestock industry experts, Alan Bell, told PerthNow that growth promotants were “very safe and backed by science.”

“The problem is that the word ‘hormone’ is an emotive one,” said Bell.

The U.S. livestock industry widely uses hormones to promote growth. The European Union has banned the practice since 1989. 

  • Lesley Parker

    Congratulations Coles on taking this essential and major step to reverse a practise that is detrimental to all Australians who consume red meat product. As a nation we register an escalating rate of hormonal cancers including male prostate. Out of balance hormones in the human body means out of balance, mind as well as body. What about the animal that has to suffer also. The fact that the European Union (which is a conglomerate of diversified peoples and cultures) has agreed that any substance that changes the natural hormones of what we ingest is detrimental to the human body/mind surely is an excellent example to emulate. It begs the question; why isn’t our government making this decision and not just in the beef industry, it needs to be taken in the poultry, pork and sheep and farmed fish industries also.

  • morrgo

    Coles will not, and cannot, sell “hormone-free beef”. All meat has naturally-occurring hormones, including growth hormones, in it. Coles can only sell beef without added hormones in it, added hormones that are actually the same as the natural ones.

  • Trevor

    I would not be concerned with “hormone free”/no-added-hormone beef on our shelves; I’d be more concerned with us as consumers being ripped-off by retailers, Coles included, selling meat which has been “vascular flushed” or what is known as a “rinse chill” technique, and “marinated” meat, and meat to which polyphosphates (a type of mineral salt) has been added.
    This practice is widespread mostly in the UK, USA, and Australia.
    Simply put, all the above techniques have the effect of adding salts, and other compounds to meat which will cause the carcase to hold ordinary water (which is part of the solution used for carcase flushing), thus causing the meat to hold extra water after slaughter, which the consumer ends up paying for.
    The above practices is how the retailers can virtually guarantee the meat – pork, beef, lamb, chicken – to be tender; by adding phosphates and water, along with flavour, all under the guise of “processing aids”.
    The long-term effects of these additives are not known, but they are being used more and more in an ever-widening variety of foods to increase the added water-holding capabilities of food.
    Take note of the amount of steam coming off your next piece of meat you panfry.
    Also, when was the last time you had a piece of chicken thigh meat that was on the dry side?

  • FB

    morrgo, just a reply to yours, no disrespect.
    You quoted:
    Coles will not, and cannot, sell “hormone-free beef”. All meat has naturally-occurring hormones, including growth hormones, in it. Coles can only sell beef without added hormones in it, added hormones that are actually the same as the natural ones.
    My response
    These hormones are still artificial. Even if they are the same in detail and in combination with the natural occurring hormones (which I doubt) following must be considered.
    They are “added” to the natural growth process therefor not natural occurring.
    Live experience has shown that anything save in moderation can be toxic and harmful in excess.
    And I think even you would agree that you cannot call a chicken pumped with growth hormones making it ready in (unnatural) 6 weeks for slaughter a natural one.
    Just some thoughts
    Trever: good info should be easily detectable now that we have fluoride added to out town water.