EUROPA > European Commission > DG Health and Consumer Protection  Contact | AZ-Index | Search | What's New? | Subscribe | Home 

de en fr

Health and Consumer Protection

Library - Press releases

Brussels, 24 May 2000

Commission proposes revised legislation banning hormones as growth promoters

The European Commission has adopted today a proposal to amend its existing legislation 1 on the prohibition of the use of hormones as growth promoters. The decision was made in the light of a recent opinion of the EU scientific advisory committee which, on the basis of the latest scientific information available, unanimously agreed to reiterate its opinion of April 1999 that the use of hormones as growth promoters in cattle poses a health risk to consumers. The Commission considers that the presentation of this proposal represents another step towards the implementation of the international obligations 2 of the Community whilst maintaining its chosen high level of health protection.

In 1998, the Commission asked the Scientific Committee of Veterinary measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH) to prepare an assessment of the risks to human health from hormone residues in meat and meat products. This move followed a WTO panel ruling in 1998 which found that the EU had not supplied sufficient elements to justify banning imports of meat and meat products from animals treated with six hormones.

The SCVPH concluded in April 99 that the use of six hormones (17 beta-oestradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone and melengestrol acetate) used for growth promotion in cattle poses a risk to consumers, with different levels of conclusive evidence. There is a substantial body of evidence that the natural hormone 17 beta-oestradiol should be considered as a complete carcinogen exerting both tumour-initiating and tumour-promoting effects. The Commission agreed on the basis of the SCVPH opinion last year that it would not be appropriate to lift the existing ban on the use of growth-promoting hormones in meat production.

The Commission has repeatedly stated its commitment to a transparent scientific dialogue and the importance of basing its decisions on the most recent scientific advice. Therefore the SCVPH was asked to carry out a review of recently available scientific reports to establish if there were any elements which would lead to a revision of its April 1999 opinion. The review included in particular reports issued by the UK's Veterinary Products Committee subgroup (October 1999) and by the Committee on Veterinary Medicinal Products of the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (December 1999). Relevant literature was also considered, including a recently published report by the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). The reconsideration of the previous opinion in light of these documents led the SCVPH to state again its concerns and to conclude that this recent information did not provide convincing data and arguments demanding revision of its opinion of April 99.

In light of the confirmation of the scientific opinion the Commission proposes to ban definitively the use of 17ß oestradiol and its ester-like derivatives in farm animals both for growth promotion and therapeutic purposes and zootechnical treatment. The Commission also proposes to maintain the current prohibition on the five other hormones on a provisional basis (testosterone, progesterone, trenbolone acetate, zeranol and melengestrol acetate) while it seeks more complete scientific information.

These provisions will be kept under regular review. They will apply to Member States and imports from third countries alike. By these measures the Community will maintain its chosen high level of protection of public health. They are taken in full conformity with the Community's international obligations. The revision of the Directive will be decided by the European Parliament and the Council in co-decision procedure as soon as possible. The proposal foresees entry into force of the revised legislation by 1 July 2001 at the latest.

The full scientific report will be available on the Internet at the following address: ood/fs/sc/scv/outcome_en.html

Beate Gminder : 02/296.56.94
Anthony Gooch : 02/299.09.44
Gregor Kreuzhuber : 02/296.65.65


Members of the Scientific Committee of Veterinary measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH)

Prof. Vincenzo CAPORALE

Dr. Pierre COLIN

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale

Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments

dell' Abruzzo e del Molise "G. Caporale"






Prof. Dr. Johanna FINK-GREMMELS

Dr. Antoine FLAHAULT

Universiteit Utrecht - Fac. Diergeneeskunde

INSERM-Centre collaborateur OMS

Afd. Vet. Farmacol., Farmacie & Toxicologie

Faculté de Médecine Saint-Antoine






Prof. Dr. Richard J. GILBERT

Statens Serum Institut

Formerly: Public Health Laboratory Service

Dept. of Gastrointestinal Infections





Prof. Dr. Alexander M. JOHNSTON

Prof. Dr. Oskar-Rüger KAADEN

University of London - Dept. of Farm Animal


and Equine Medicine and Surgery

Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie





Dr. Hilde KRUSE

Prof. Agostino MACRI

National Veterinary Institute

Istituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS)

Norwegian Zoonosis Centre

Laboratorio di Medicina Veterinaria (MVE)





Prof. Dr. Antonios J. MANTIS

Prof. Dr. med. vet. Esko NURMI

Univ. Thessaloniki - School of Vet. Medicine

National Veterinary & Food Research Institute (EELA)

Dept. of Food Hygiene and Technology






Prof. Albert OSTERHAUS

Dr. Wolfgang PFAU

Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam

Arbeitsgruppe Toxikologie und Umweltmedizin

Instituut voor Virologie








Univ. Autonoma de Barcelona - Fac. Veterinaria

National Veterinary Institute

Dept. de Patologia i de Produccio Animals

Zoonosis Centre





Prof. Jan VAN HOOF

Prof. Dr. Frans VAN KNAPEN

Universiteit Gent-Faculteit Diergeneeskunde

Universiteit Utrecht - Fac. Diergeneeskunde

Vakgroep Diergeneeskundig Toezicht op Eetwaren

Afd. Voedingsmidd. van Dierlijke Oorsprong





Prof. Dr. Dominique A. VUITTON

Université de Franche-Comté

Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie



1 Council Directive 96/22/EC

2 Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS), Art. 5

Released on 24/05/2000


[ ©] -



  printable version  
Public HealthFood SafetyConsumer Affairs