*Note: This post which was originally posted on Facebook went viral and had about 7,000 shares and a million hits in less than two days.


Is there a difference between an A&W Teen burger (left) and a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder (right)? In terms of taste, texture, convenience and maybe your fond childhood memories, you might think yes, there is a big difference. But in terms of hormones, there isn’t a heck of a lot, unlike what A&W has led you to believe.

I haven’t purchased a Teen Burger or anything from A&W (other than today for demonstration purposes only ?) since 2013 when their “Better Beef” campaign started. We all saw the misleading and cheeky ads that their beef was somehow “better” because they didn’t contain any added hormones. In an indirect way, we were led to believe that hormones were bad for us and so was the beef you were eating at places other than A&W.

On the other hand, McDonald’s purchases beef from Canadian farmers who use hormones. The beef in the Quarter Pounder has about 3.5 ng of estrogen in it. The beef in the Teen burger, which was “raised without the use of added hormones” and likely sourced from a different country (uhhhh hemmm, flown across the world) has about 2.5 ng of estrogen.

Is that 1 ng of estrogen a huge difference? Nope, but A&W has you thinking it is. What if I told you that the bun on the burger has about 50,000 ng of estrogen? Or that as a woman, I produce about 500,000 ng of estrogen DAILY or even cabbage, of all things has 5,500 ng. That 1 ng of estrogen seems like a pretty slick marketing tactic now with further context.

What A&W and other food companies promoting “raised without the use of added hormones” are not mentioning is that hormones help us farmers be more environmentally sustainable. In Canada and the US, farmers can give their cattle hormones (or growth promotants) early on to help the animal process their food more efficiently into muscle tissue. If we didn’t use these hormones, it would take 12% more cattle, 11% more feed, 10% more land and create 10% more greenhouse gases (aka more manure) to produce the same amount of beef. Those numbers are far more substantial and important than 1 ng of estrogen.

This isn’t a post to sway you into not supporting your local farmer who decides to raise his/her cattle based on what they feel is best for their animals and farm. This is to show you that you don’t need to fear your food and there is always more to the story than a label. Ultimately, the food you buy is safe. Us farmers, whether we use hormones or not, are proud to raise and grow safe and affordable food for you and your family.

Now I’m going to enjoy my McDonald’s 100% Canadian-beef burger and throw the Teen Burger to the farm cats ?

For more information on hormones used in beef: http://www.beefresearch.ca/…/qa-on-conventional-production…/