Chemicals in Food

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The average American eats about 1,996.3 pounds of food per year (Credit Loan). Just what exactly is it that they are eating? Between additives, pesticides that are sprayed onto fruits and vegetables, hormones that are given to cows, and the amount of pollution in water, the foods that people eat everyday may not be as safe as some would think. Even simple drinking water has been contaminated by illicit drugs, medicinal drugs, and hormones (National Geographic). Additives also cause a concern when it comes to consumers. Those hard-to-pronounce chemicals that are in the list of ingredients on the label are used for more than just flavoring, appearance, and preserving the food (Food Additives). Those additives are used in some other very harsh items such as bug repellent (Food Additives). However, there are some simple and sustainable options that can help consumers avoid running into harsh chemicals and additives that may be lurking in their food. These changes will not only help them make healthier and safer choices, but also help them to save some money in the long run. Many unanswered questions will be addressed within this paper such as: What are the hormones in some of the foods such as dairy and meat and what exactly are they used for? How do they affect us? What can consumers do to avoid purchasing these items? How can one avoid unsafe drinking water and are additives really that bad?

According to Credit Loan, Americans consume on average 110 pounds of red meat a year, 600.5 pounds of dairy products (not including cheese), and 31.4 pounds of cheese a year (Food Consumption in America). The common theme here is that all of these food groups come from cows. It is not, however, that we are eating cattle and beef, but what that cattle is being fed into its body. “In 2005, 32.5 million cattle were slaughtered to provide beef for U.S. consumers. Scientists believe about two-thirds of American cattle raised in for slaughter today are injected with hormones to make them grow faster (Sustainable Table).” This does not include hormones used for the increased production of dairy/milk. With just beef alone, there are six natural and artificial hormones that are injected into cattle and they include: Oestradiol, Progesterone and Testosterone (these are natural occurring hormones). Then there are Zeranol, Trenbolone and Melengestrol (these are artificial hormones) (Sustainable Table). Although there has not been any significant case studies done on these hormones, scientists believe that these hormones pose some threats to human health. “The Committee [European Union’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health] also question whether hormones residues in the meat of ‘growth enhanced’ animals can disrupt human hormone balance, causing developmental problems, interfering with the reproductive system, and even leading to the development of breast, prostate or colon cancer (Sustainable Table). Scientists also believe that those at the greatest risk are children, women who are pregnant and unborn babies (Sustainable Table). “Hormone residues in beef have been implicated in the early onset of puberty of girls, which could put them at greater risk of developing breast and other forms of cancer” (Sustainable Table). However, health risk of humans is not the only factor. Aquatic ecosystems are being greatly affected by hormone residue in the manure of cows by contaminating run-off and groundwater. “Recent studies have demonstrated that exposure to hormones has a substantial effect on the gender and reproductive capacity of fish, throwing off the natural life cycle” (Sustainable Table). The United States and Canada, however, continue to allow the growth hormones to be injected. The European Union does not, and they strictly prohibit trade with the U.S. and Canada on hormone-treated beef. Injecting growth hormones into cattle is not the only kind of hormone they are being given either. RBGH is a hormone that...
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