Interview by SafBaby Founders Sandra Blum and Samantha Fox Olson

Our exclusive interview with Ryan Zinn, from the Organic Consumer Association, answers some important question EVERY parent should know about regarding additives in the meat and dairy products we may feed our families.

This interview shows the importance in spending the extra dollars to buy organic meat, poultry and fish if you do consume these products.

Also, as Ryan says, concerned parents and citizens must become politically active, as well as make smart purchases to change laws and practices!

Certified Organic Products Are Free Of…

  • Synthetic pesticides
  • Synthetic growth hormones
  • Steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Genetically engineered organisms.
  • Also, organic animals must be vegetarian (it is common for conventional animals to be feed rendered animals, poultry litter, etc.)

SafBaby: What’s the difference between steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics? Are they used on beef/cattle only are also on chicken, turkey, fish etc? Are they also used to produce milk?

Ryan Zinn, Organic Consumers Association:

Synthetic steroids and growth hormones provide accelerated growth or milk production. Non-therapeutic antibiotics are used regularly in meat/dairy production for two reasons. Antibiotics, for some reason, also accelerate growth in animals.

Additionally, because factory farmed animals are confined in extremely unsanitary conditions and are regularly exposed to pathogens, other sick animals, etc., they are regularly dosed with antibiotics as a “preventative” measure.

However, this common use of antibiotics in food production, we are witnessing an emergence of many antibiotic resistance strains of diseases. Finally, antibiotics are showing up in compost from the manure of factory farmed animals.
Organic Meat, Poultry and Fish must be free of…..

In the United States, the USDA considers organic a “production process,” meaning that no dangerous chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, etc., can go into the process of growing organic food, meat, etc., but generally speaking there is not much testing of the final product. This is because our environment is extremely contaminated, thus it is not unlikely that some organic produce, for example, may contain small traces of pesticide residue due to the general contamination of our waterways.

Nonetheless, we can say that certified organic products are free of: synthetic pesticides, synthetic growth hormones, steroids, antibiotics, genetically engineered organisms. Also, organic animals must be vegetarian (it is common for conventional animals to be feed rendered animals, poultry litter, etc.)

Is it true that the European Union banned import of US meat and dairy treated with growth hormones?

YES! The EU, Japanese, South Korean, etc., bans also are a response to US’ lax regulations regarding Mad Cow.

Are Organic Cows/Cattle Grass Fed ONLY?

Organic cows must have access to pasture (grass) for roughly half of the year. During the winter and/or rainy season, organic cows must be provided organic certified feed, usually alfalfa and other bailed grasses, and at times, organic potatoes, soy, etc.

Are organic beef/chicken/cows cows only fed with organic/pesticide-free grass/seeds?

Generally, yes. National Organic Standards have a “commercial availability” clause, which means that organic producers, ranchers, etc., must use certified organic pasture/feed when commercially available. For example, if there was a natural disaster (like a hurricane that wiped out an entire crop), producers/ranchers could apply for an exemption.

If the animals are fed/injected with these steroids/hormones etc., is there evidence that our bodies absorb them? Isn’t there enough evidence that this is extremely unhealthy for people (especially children), why aren’t there better laws in place to protect the consumer?

Yes, there is much evidence regarding the negative human (and animal) impact of these industrial agriculture inputs. However, the Department of Agriculture and Congress tend to respond more to business interest than the public interest. Each year, pesticide companies, meat producers, bio tech corporations, food processors, among others, spend millions of dollars lobbying key decision makers. Thus, concerned parents and citizens must becoming politically active, as well as make smart purchases, to protect the food supply.

Is ‘Organic’ ensuring humane treatment of farm animals or does it just mean the meat is free of the growth hormones, antibiotics etc.?

National Organic Standards generally assure that organically raised animals are more likely to be humanely treated. However, there are/were a number of loopholes that allowed some operations to operate “organic” certified feedlots/factory farms. This was publicized by the OCA with respect to a number of Horizon dairy operations. We are working to close this loophole.

Are there additional toxic cleaning agents used in meat processing facilities in non-organic meat? How about organic meat?

I think the most dangerous and significant additional process that deals with conventional production is exposing beef to carbon monoxide to extend shelf life and enhance cosmetic aspects (red color).

Organic certification does include specific handling and processing practices. As a result, the certified cleaners are generally the least dangerous on the market, and in some cases herbal based.

What’s the oversight of organic farms?

There are roughly 50 independent, 3rd-party organic certifiers that are responsible for visiting farms, taking samples as needed and auditing a farmer/rancher’s paperwork. Additionally, organic producers must meet conventional food safety regulations.

Reasons why children or breast feeding mothers should ONLY consume organic meet/dairy? What are some of the side effects of steroids, growth hormones, ionophores & antibiotics we intake from drinking/eating?

There are two important sides to this issue. First off, parents/mothers of course will want to avoid conventional foods due to their adverse health impacts.

Secondly, certified organic foods clearly have higher nutritional values, more antioxidants, etc. The Organic Center has the largest clearinghouse of peer reviewed scientific studies detailing the health benefits of organic foods.

Anything you’d like to add parents of young children should know?

Yes: though organics can often times be more expensive, the superior nutritionally quality and avoidance of toxins is well worth the cost.

Thank you Ryan for this very informative interview!

Mission Organic 2010 – Eat More Organic

The mission of ‘MISSION ORGANIC 2010’ is to eat more organic (pledge to eat 10% more). To find out more about how to join this mission, please visit A few quick facts from Mission Organic 2010:

By growing U.S. organic food sales to 10 percent by 2010, you will help…

  • Eliminate pesticides from 98 million daily U.S. servings of drinking water.
  • Assure 20 million daily servings of milk that are produced without antibiotics & genetically modified growth hormones.
  • Eliminate use of growth hormones, genetically engineered drugs and feeds, and 2.5 million pounds of antibiotics used on livestock annually. (More than twice the amount of antibiotics used to treat human infections.)
  • Assure that 915 million animals are treated more humanely.
  • Fight climate change by capturing an additional 6.5 billion pounds of carbon in soil. (That’s the equivalent of taking 2 million cars, each averaging 12,000 miles per year, off the road.)
  • Eliminate 2.9 billion barrels of imported oil annually. (Equal to 406,000 Olympic eight-lane competition pools.)

Growing U.S. organic food sales to 10 percent by 2010, can improve our personal health by:

  • Lowering the incidence of neurodevelopmental problems in children, perhaps including ADHD and autism. Abnormal neurodevelopment in children can be caused or made worse by pre-natal and early life exposures to pesticides and chemicals that contaminate our food.
  • Lowering the number of pre-term deliveries each year. Prematurity is now an epidemic in the United States, affecting one in eight babies. It is a leading cause of developmental problems, and death, in babies.
  • Virtually eliminating dietary exposures to insecticides known to be developmental neurotoxins, based on the compelling findings reported in two University of Washington studies involving school-age children.
  • Reducing unwanted interference with our sex hormones, which should reduce the prevalence of erectile dysfunction, the number of people suffering from loss of sexual drive, and reduce a host of estrogen-related health problems


Organic Consumers Association
Organic Center
More info on recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone
More info on steroid/growth hormones
More info on antibiotics