A report appearing in the British journal Human Reproduction in March speculates a link between infertility in adult males with the amount of beef consumed by their mothers during pregnancy. The study postulates that the culprit is growth implants and “other zenobiotics” in beef.

The study of 387 American men born between 1949 and 1983 — all fathering children without medical assistance — purports that sons of mothers who ate more than seven beef meals/week had a sperm concentration 25% lower than men whose mothers ate less beef.

But the American Meat Institute (AMI) countered that the study should be viewed only with “a giant dose of skepticism” and “appears to be a health study in search of a health problem.”

“In conducting this study, adult men who had already conceived children were told to ask their mothers what they ate decades earlier during pregnancy. It is a widely accepted fact that food recall can be notoriously poor from even a day or a week before, let alone multiple decades,” says Randy Huffman, AMI vice president of scientific affairs.