Arsenic In Chicken Feed
Poses Human Health Risk
Pets may not be the only organisms endangered by some food additives.
An arsenic-based additive used in chicken feed may pose health
risks to humans who eat meat from chickens that are raised on
the feed, according to an article in the April 9 issue of Chemical
& Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical
Roxarsone, the most common arsenic-based additive used in chicken
feed, is used to promote growth, kill parasites and improve pigmentation
of chicken meat. In its original form, roxarsone is relatively
benign. But under certain anaerobic conditions, within live chickens
and on farm land, the compound is converted into more toxic forms
of inorganic arsenic. Arsenic has been linked to bladder, lung,
skin, kidney and colon cancer, while low-level exposures can lead
to partial paralysis and diabetes, the article notes.
Use of roxarsone has become a topic of increasing controversy.
A growing number of food suppliers have stopped using the compound,
including the nation's largest poultry producer, Tyson Foods,
according to the article. Still, about 70 percent of the 9 billion
broiler chickens produced annually in the U.S. are fed a diet
containing roxarsone, the article points out.
Complicating the issue is the fact that no one knows the exact
amount of arsenic found in chicken meat or ingested by consumers
who frequently eat chicken. "Neither the Food and Drug Administration
nor the Department of Agriculture has actually measured the level
of arsenic in the poultry meat that most people consume," according
to the article.
The National Chicken Council, a trade association that represents
the U.S. chicken industry, claims there is "no reason to believe
there are any human health hazards" associated with the use of