Natural hormones in bovine serum: our new PT proposal

Growth hormones (such as progesterone, testosterone and 17b-estradiol), are naturally present in animal tissue, but they can be illicitly used to promote growth in animals, especially cattle.

These hormones can be used for various reasons, for example: enhancing milk production and promoting young animals growth,  increasing weight rates increase so as to reduce the time it takes the animal to grow and therefore also reducing feed costs.

The use of these substances that promote growth in cattle generated  discussions regarding he safety of animal livestock for human consumption. Over the last 20 years several studies have been conducted to estimate the possibility of health impact deriving from consumption of animal products (i.e. milk or meat) that have been treated with these substances.

As far as animal health is concerned, the use of hormones can cause incidences, for example the use of progesterone during pregnancy can promote the occurrence of uterine disease.

The situation in the European Union!

In the European Union the performances for analytical methods for pharmacologically active substances that are used in food-producing animals is regulated by the COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION 2021/808 .

Every country publishes its national plan for residues that regulates the methods and the maximum levels for substances that are used to treat farm animals.

As an example, the Piano Nazionale dei Residui 2022 (Italian national plan for residues 2022) indicates progesterone, testosterone and 17b-estradiol, in the category for Substances with anabolic effect and unauthorized substances and indicates their maximum physiological levels, as reported in the table here below.

It is not possible to distinguish among naturally produces hormones and the ones used to treat animals: if higher level is detected, it means the animal was treated with hormones.

Maximum physiological levels in plasm or serum for cattle. Data are Expressed in ng/ml

Sex and age17b-estradiol (free, non conjugated)progesteronetestosterone
Male, up to 6 months0,040110
Female, up to 6 months0,04010,5
Male, older that 6 months0,0401,530
Female, older that 6 months (nonprengnant) 0,040140,5
Table taken form Italian national plan for residues

Test Veritas does its part!

Considering the interest in detecting an illicit use of natural hormones in cattle, to walk alongside the laboratories that want to implement this type of analysis, Test Veritas will implemented a new PT:

PT for the research of Natural Hormones in Serum
(code SE3209) Round of May

  • Deadline to subscribe online: March 31st 2023
  • Shipping date: May 15th 2023
  • Test Material: 1 sample for 15ml
  • Molecules under study: progesterone, testosterone, 17-b-estradiol
  • All molecules will be present in the Test Material
  • You can participate with any method (HPLC, GC, ELISA, Lateral flow, …)
  • Quantitative results will be evaluated with a z-score, while semi-quantitative results will be evaluted with dedicated criteria


  • Test Veritas has more than 20 years of experience as a Veterinary Drug Residues PT provider.
  • Interantional PTs: in 2022 participants came from more than 87 countries and from all continents. 
  • Our Test Material are lyophilized (to be tested after reconstitution), in order to guarantee the stability of the Test Materials, even for long shipment. In this way, regardless of the provenience of the laboratory, every participant can be sure to receive the exact same Test Material as the others. This will make the assigned value more reliable and the evaluation more valid.

If you want to see more details about this or other PTs, such as the schedule, prices… go to this page to download the entire programme.

Here you can find information on How to order

For any further information, do not hesitate to contact us at

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