FDA Admits Chicken Meat Contains Arsenic – Truth! & Outdated!
Summary of eRumor:
The FDA has admitted that most chicken meat sold in the U.S. contains cancer-causing arsenic.
This claim was mostly true in 2011, but it has been resolved.
In 2011, the FDA carried out a study on the effect an animal drug called Roxarson, or 3-Nitro, had on chicken meat. The FDA allowed poultry producers to use the drug to prevent parasitic diseases in chickens, to promote weight gain, and to improve the color of chicken meat.
The FDA studied 100 boiler chickens to determine whether the use of 3-Nitro led to elevated levels of arsenic in chicken meat. According to the study, higher levels of inorganic arsenic were found in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro than in chickens that were not treated:
Roxarsone and its metabolites were present in liver tissues from chicks fed roxarsone-medicated feed. The incurred levels of inorganic arsenic species were highly variable in treated chicks but appeared to be significantly greater than that in the untreated control birds. Withdrawal of the medicated feed led to a time-dependent decrease in various arsenic species, many of which were unidentified. Whether or not these unknowns could pose any toxicological risk will be dependent upon their subsequent identification and testing.
The FDA first approved 3-Nitro for human consumption in 1944. Bernadette Dunham, the director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, explained the purpose of the FDA’s review of the drug, and the results of the study:
Over the past seven to eight years, published scientific reports indicated that organic arsenic can transform into inorganic arsenic in the environment. These reports caused FDA to question whether the organic arsenic that was present in animal drugs such as Roxarsone would also transform into inorganic arsenic when used in animals.
We would like to stress that the levels of inorganic arsenic found in chicken livers are very low and represent a very low health risk to people who eat chicken. We would also like to stress that consumers can continue to eat chicken as 3-Nitro is suspended from the market. Furthermore, FDA does not believe there is a need to recall chicken already in commerce. FDA’s findings demonstrate a very low but avoidable public exposure to inorganic arsenic, a carcinogen.
Then, in June of 2011, Pfizer announced that it had voluntarily suspended the sale of 3-Nitro because of the FDA’s findings, which resolved the issue.
However, the eRumor resurfaced as breaking news in early 2015. An outdated report claimed that the FDA had “just” admitted that 70% of chicken meat sold in the U.S. contained arsenic:
So a few days ago when I turned on the tube and saw the news headlines stating that the FDA has finally confirmed that chicken meat sold in the USA contains arsenic, my head, and stomach, nearly hit the roof. This cancer-causing toxic chemical, that in high doses could kill you, is actually being added to chicken feed on purpose, giving store-bought chicken the illusion of healthy coloring and plump appearance. Shockingly, this is the case with more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens! That is just awful!
But while the eRumor’s claims about 3-Nitro are outdated, there are more arsenic-based animal drugs that are approved for human consumption, the FDA says:
3-Nitro (Roxarsone) was the first arsenic-based product approved for use in animal feed and is currently the most commonly used arsenic-based animal drug. Other arsenic-based drugs that are approved for use in food-producing animals (poultry and swine) include nitarsone, arsanilic acid, and carbarsone. Current data indicate that only the 3-Nitro and nitarsone products are being marketed. These drugs all have forms of organic arsenic–the form of arsenic that is less toxic and not carcinogenic–as their active ingredient.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but lately my poultry purchases at my local market have become more and more of a ‘hit-and-miss’ situation, with more ‘misses’ if I’m being honest. As I bite into my homemade chicken nuggets or Coq au Vin (when I’m feeling fancy) I can’t help but feel that the chicken just tastes weird, stringy, just…funny. So a few days ago when I turned on the tube and saw the news headlines stating that the FDA has finally confirmed that chicken meat sold in the USA contains arsenic, my head, and stomach, nearly hit the roof. This cancer-causing toxic chemical, that in high doses could kill you, is actually being added to chicken feed on purpose, giving store-bought chicken the illusion of healthy coloring and plump appearance. Shockingly, this is the case with more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens! That is just awful!
The FDA has asked Pfizer to stop manufacturing the arsenic-containing drug, Roxarsone, that was found in the livers of nearly half of all chicken tested. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The agency said it recently conducted a study of 100 broiler chickens that detected inorganic arsenic at higher levels in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro compared with untreated chickens … Pfizer said sale of 3-Nitro would be stopped by early July in order to allow animal producers to transition to other treatments.” This urgent request by the FDA is surprising in itself as the agency has always maintained that the arsenic in chickens is at such low levels that it is safe for consumption, when meanwhile it has been clinically proven to be extremely toxic to human health, causing an array of neurological defects in developing fetuses and young children…Looks like the FDA finally got the memo, and not a moment too soon!
So, the next time you’re out buying chicken (if you’re not totally put off by it at this point) make sure you look out for the following:
-If the chicken meat is bright pink in color, like in an unnatural way, avoid it at all costs.
-Make sure that the fat content on the chicken is white to deep yellow, not gray or pasty.
-Check the date on the package.
-And finally, aim for “Certified Organic” meat products. It’s probably safest choice for you and your family.