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Prohibition on administering hormones (and other substances) to farm animals

The European Union (EU) limits the administering of hormones to animals, the meat or products of which are intended for human consumption, to certain therapeutic and zootechnical treatments. All other types of administration, such as to encourage growth, are prohibited. Furthermore, the holding of hormones is strictly controlled.

ACT

Council Directive 96/22/EC of 29 April 1996 concerning the prohibition on the use in stockfarming of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic action and of beta-agonists, and repealing Directives 81/602/EEC, 88/146/EEC and 88/299/EEC [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

European legislation should protect consumer health and maintain the quality of foodstuffs by creating a framework for the use of hormones intended for animals.

Substances

Directive 96/22/EC prohibits the administration of certain substances to farm animals. The substances concerned are:

  • thyrostatic substances;
  • stilbenes, stilbene derivatives, their salts and esters;
  • oestradiol 17ß and its ester-like derivatives;
  • beta-agonists (derogations possible); and
  • substances with an oestrogenic (other than oestradiol 17ß and its ester-like derivatives), androgenic or gestagenic action (derogations possible, provisional prohibition to give the Commission time to assess the risks of these substances to human health).

Prohibition

Directive 96/22/EC prohibits:

  • the placing on the market of the substances listed above where they are to be administered to animals intended for human consumption (not including the therapeutic and zootechnical exceptions);
  • the placing on the market and slaughter of animals containing these substances or residues of these substances;
  • the placing on the market of meats or products of animal origin containing these substances or residues of these substances;
  • the holding of these substances on a farm.

Derogations

Substances with a hormonal or thyrostatic action and beta-agonist substances may not be administered to farm animals. However, these substances may be used for therapeutic and zootechnical purposes, provided their use is controlled.

Imports

The import of animals, meat or products of animal origin from countries which authorise the administration of these substances to animals intended for human consumption for other purposes is prohibited in the European Union unless these countries offer an equivalent guarantee for exports to the European Union (segregated breeding system).

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 96/22/EC

23.5.1996

1.7.1997

OJ L 125 of 23.5.1996

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2003/74/EC

14.10.2003

14.10.2004

OJ L 262 of 14.10.2003

Directive 2008/97/EC

18.12.2008

1.1.2009

OJ L 318 of 28.11.2008

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 96/22/CE have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for information only.

Last updated: 10.02.2010
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