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FDA Admits Chicken Meat Contains Arsenic

Center for Food Safety
EcoWatch / News Investigation
Published: Wednesday 8 May 2013
Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs, yet new studies increasingly link these practices to serious human health problems.
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Attorneys at Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit on behalf of CFS, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and seven other U.S. food safety, agriculture, public health and environmental groups to compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to the groups’ three year-old petition which calls for immediate withdrawal of FDA’s approval of arsenic-containing compounds as feed additives for food animals. Filed the same day Consumer Reports released an alarming study on antibiotic resistance in turkey, the lawsuit highlights yet another gaping hole in FDA oversight of animal feed additives.

Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. Yet new studies increasingly link these practices to serious human health problems. The lawsuit filed last week seeks to force the FDA to fulfill its mandate to better protect the public from arsenic. The 2009 petition presented abundant science to FDA that organic arsenic compounds—like those added to animal feed—are directly toxic to animals and humans, but also that they convert to cancer-causing, inorganic arsenic inside of chickens, in manure-treated soil and in humans. Additional testing since submission of the 2009 petition demonstrates even greater cause for public concern and therefore greater urgency meriting FDA’s prompt attention.

“FDA could easily and immediately fix the problem,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior staff attorney with CFS, “but instead puts its head in the sand. We can only conclude the FDA is catering to the companies that continue to sell products containing arsenic that ends up in our food supply.”

“FDA leadership is asleep at the switch, if not turning a blind eye to public health,” said David Wallinga, MD, a physician with the IATP. “Seven years ago, IATP blew the whistle on FDA’s indifference to arsenic being needlessly fed to chickens and turkeys. More than a decade ago, we sounded the alarm on how FDA let the routine feeding of drugs to chickens and turkeys help ensure that Americans would eat meat often contaminated with bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics. We are filing suit because nothing much has changed.”

Read IATP’s 2006 full report, Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat.

First approved as animal feed additives in the 1940s, arsenic-containing compounds remain legal for use in U.S. chicken, turkey and swine production. They were never approved as safe for animal feed in the European Union, Japan and many other countries.

Substantial evidence confirming the serious public health risks of using arsenic as a feed additive was provided as part of the 2009 petition to the FDA.

Since 2009, this evidence has continued to grow; yet the FDA still fails to respond to the 2009 petition:

  • In 2011, the FDA reported its own study concluding that organic arsenic could transform into the toxic carcinogen inorganic arsenic, and that levels of inorganic arsenic in chicken livers were substantially higher for chickens treated with the arsenical Roxarsone than for chickens not treated with Roxarsone.
  • Also in 2011, Alpharma (a division of Pfizer) announced it would voluntarily suspend—not revoke—sale of Roxarsone within 30 days following the release of FDA’s study. At this time, FDA commented that Roxarsone raised concerns of “completely avoidable exposure to a carcinogen.”
  • In 2012, Maryland’s Governor signed H.B. 167, banning use, sale, or distribution of Roxarsone or any other feed additive that contains arsenic, or histostat.

While these efforts are a step in the right direction, they are far from the comprehensive approach that is necessary under the law to protect public health. For example, without an FDA ban in place, Alpharma is free to begin marketing Roxarsone at any time.

ABOUT Center for Food Safety


The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a national non-profit public interest and environmental advocacy organization working to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. CFS uses legal actions, groundbreaking scientific and policy reports, books and other educational materials, market pressure and grass roots campaigns through our True Food Network. CFS's successful legal cases collectively represent a landmark body of case law on food and agricultural issues.

Complications why ? The Earth

Complications why ?
The Earth is a Perfect Place to Live
The problem with the USA and the world is it's filled with Stupid People.
There is a technology 6 thousand years old that will fix this problem it is called
Give Until it Bleeds !

study everything on these sites - watch all the videos
cough up the money to learn TM properly & sit twice a day in silence for 20 minutes
nature will come to save us

Eat only organic food. Preferably food you have grown yourself.

Protect yourselves and let the dumb ones die off eating Stupid Food

If you live in the USA travel to Fairfield Iowa - see their plans
for the future of our dear world ... the light glows bright there.
Good luck !

Let's let the Smart, the Wise and Kind Rule the World for a change !

I think it's funny that the

I think it's funny that the same suppliers provide chicken to all the fast food restaurants listed in the article yet some have higher arsenic levels than others. Also no casual dining restaurants are listed which also get their meat from the same suppliers.
The same restaurant chicken is also what consumers buy at their local grocery stores (other than "organic").
This article is poorly researched & just another case of misinformation of the public.

how do you know all of the

how do you know all of the fast food chicken in the table comes from the same supplier?? you makin that up?

When a dollar bill becomes

When a dollar bill becomes more important than a human being.............

What makes you think that it

What makes you think that it hasn't happened already?

When will Monsanto

When will Monsanto genetically engineer chickens that produce arsenic in every cell?

It seems strange to me that

It seems strange to me that stories like these prompt some people to scream out against capitalism. Isn't it obvious, though, that we should be screaming out against government? More government is not the answer. More government simply costs more money. And don't be fooled into believing that having the “right” people in place will make government functional. It has never happened and never will.
Free Market

No, Joe Specht, it's not at

No, Joe Specht, it's not at all obvious that government is the problem and capitalism isn't. It's capitalism's nasty side - the urge to make a buck no matter what the harm to anyone else - that puts arsenic in the chickens in the first place. "Government" - and let's be specific, the FDA, not some imaginary Big Brother - may be asleep at the switch in this case, but the solution is not to remove all rules and monitoring, but for them to do the job they are supposed to do.

A hurt to one is a hurt to

A hurt to one is a hurt to all, unless (a) you are he one doing the hurting and (b) you are wealthy enough not to give a damn.

Scream out against

Scream out against government? Sure, but not just because it's "The Government." Some governments are nothing short of tyrannical, others benevolent. Government in a democratic society (not ours) is what the citizenry elects it to be. Ours is a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich; it's owned by corporations whose sole aim is to make money, more money, and even more money.

The government we've elected isn't serving the citizenry because tea party members in Washington hate the government and want to bring it down. They do all they can to wreck the place, and then stand back and say, "Ya see? This place is a wreck!"

If you don't want regulations to guarantee there's no arsenic in your chicken, don't complain when you find out that agribusiness puts arsenic in your chicken.

FDA = Federal Dumb Asses.....

FDA = Federal Dumb Asses..... dumb puppets paid by industry to DO NOTHING EVER.

FDA more federal cretins without a single braincell within the entire agency.

Pity the poor American

Pity the poor American People. Utterly clueless, they can't comprehend that they are little more than dumb animals to be preyed upon by corporate parasites and predators. Their drinking water is fouled, their food poisoned and the air they breathe polluted. Banks steal their money, industry puts them in harm's way and politicians conspire behind their backs to facilitate every means devised to swell corporate profits at their expense. They're slowly being bled to death, and they don't even notice.

I've been suspicious for a

I've been suspicious for a while that these compounds that force our food supply to grow faster and bigger could be at the center of the American problem with obesity. It seems intuitive to me.

Then obesity and other new health problems cost our government billions over time in medical expenses. It's hard to imagine why the FDA (Fraud and Deception Agency?) would consider it in their best interest to let this crime continue unless they were on the dole too.

We have a new Whole Foods store near me, and that's where I'm shopping. I now believe that we must buy organic or change our diets.

Capitalism works very well, except when it doesn't. When everything is about money, this is what we get.

That's all we can do is

That's all we can do is change our buying habits one family at a time and educate our family and friends. Sadly it is hardest on those that can barely afford the food they do purchase. I buy organic food when I donate to food pantries. I'm sure it's a drop in the bucket but a little healthy food here and there over a lifetime can make small differences. I also like that healthy food is usually farmed and produced under conditions that respect the workers and provide a living wage.

Organic? Better read the

Organic? Better read the label. If it contains organic brown rice syrup, it's probably got arsenic in it.

the arsenic in US grown rice

the arsenic in US grown rice has been documented to come from remaining traces of arsenic-containing pesticides that were used on cotton crops that were grown before the rice was planted in the same area

Norman Allen's picture

Who is the FDA paid by? Who

Who is the FDA paid by? Who is it working for? What is their mission? To protect the consumers against ruthless profiteers or to cover up for ruthless profiteers at the expense of the 99%? Everywhere you look closely, the system seems to be rotting and dysfunctional.... Chasing profits at the expense of the people....

The FDA is paid by the

The FDA is paid by the corporations they're supposed to be regulating. They actually get paid by drug companies to fast track approval of their drugs. If you watch the movie about Burzynski you'll see an interview with a former FDA agent who says he was told point blank by his boss that the industry NOT the people were their clients.

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