In meat, production hormones can be used to get a higher yield and a more favourable meat-to-fat ratio. This is why hormones were formerly used as growth promoting substances in livestock rearing. The use of growth promoting substances has been prohibited in the Netherlands since 1961. Europe banned the use of these substances in 1988. One of the statutory research tasks of the National Reference Laboratory is to check for compliance with these bans.
Wageningen Food Safety Research is National Reference Laboratory for prohibited hormonal growth promoting substances and beta-agonists.
Prohibited growth promoting substances, such as anabolic steroids, beta-agonists, thyreostatics can often already be detected on a farm. Tests for the presence of these substances are therefore often conducted on urine, faeces, hair, serum etc.
Major groups of substances which can be detected are:
- resorcylic acid lactones, including zeranol
- banned compounds (e.g. chloramfenicol)