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Summaries of EU Legislation

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

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

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 96/22/EC — the prohibition on the use in stockfarming of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic action and of ß-agonists

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

It seeks to protect consumer health and maintain the quality of foodstuffs by creating a framework for the use of hormones intended for animals.

KEY POINTS

Substances

The directive prohibits the administration of certain substances to farm animals to promote growth. The substances, listed in Annex II, are:

  • thyrostatic* substances;
  • stilbenes, stilbene derivatives, their salts and esters;
  • oestradiol 17ß and its ester-like derivatives;
  • beta-agonists* (prohibited but derogations possible under certain circumstances).

There is also a list of provisionally prohibited substances in the directive’s Annex III: these comprise substances with an oestrogenic* (other than oestradiol 17ß and its ester-like derivatives), androgenic* or gestagenic* action (derogations possible).

Directive 2003/74/EC amended Directive 96/22/EC, confirming the prohibition of hormones for growth promotion in animals. It also reduced substantially the circumstances under which oestradiol 17ß could be administered for other purposes to food-producing animals.

Directive 2008/97/EC amended Directive 96/22/EC and limits the scope of Directive 96/22/EC only to food-producing animals, withdrawing the prohibitions for pet animals.

As oestradiol 17β is not essential in the production of food-producing animals (because of available alternatives) and in view of its potential risks to human health, it is completely prohibited for use in food-producing animals. Therefore the temporary exemptions which were provided for the use of oestradiol 17β are not renewed.

Prohibition

The directive 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.

Exceptions

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

Imports

The EU prohibits the import of animals, meat or products of animal origin from non-EU countries that authorise the administration of these substances for growth promotion. However, the EU prohibition does not apply where these countries are able to offer an equivalent guarantee for exports such as a segregated breeding system.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

It has applied since 23 May 1996. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 1 July 1997.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

KEY TERMS

Thyrostatic: medicines that reduce (or stabilise) the production of thyroid hormones.
Oestrogenic: hormones that stimulate the development of female secondary sex characteristics (for example, lighter muscling and weight of cows than bulls), exert systemic effects such as growth and maturation of long bones and promote oestrus (i.e. a regularly occurring period of sexual receptivity) in female mammals.
Androgenic: hormones that control the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics.
Gestagenic: hormones that produce progestational (i.e. favouring gestation) effects in the uterus.
Zootechnical: the technology of animal husbandry (domestication and selective breeding of animals).
Beta-agonist: drugs that relax muscles (for example, when giving birth) by stimulating beta-adrenoceptors.

MAIN DOCUMENT

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 ß-agonists, and repealing Directives 81/602/EEC, 88/146/EEC and 88/299/EEC (OJ L 125, 23.5.1996, pp. 3-9)

Successive amendments to Directive 96/22/EC have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Directive 2001/82/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 November 2001 on the Community code relating to veterinary medicinal products (OJ L 311, 28.11.2001, pp. 1-66)

See consolidated version.

last update 16.11.2017

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