by Elizabeth Renter
November 1st, 2013
In 2011, a report was issued from the Food and Drug Administration blasting roxarsone, an arsenic-based drug used in chicken production. The FDA announced the Pfizer-made drug was contaminating chicken sold to the American people at a high level. After the scathing report, Pfizer voluntarily pulled roxarsone. But, the arsenic scare isn’t over.
A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) indicates inorganic arsenic (iAs) isn’t only in U.S. chicken, but it’s in most U.S. chicken. While the study focused on chicken treated by roxarsone, another arsenic-creating drug is on the market and being used in chicken production, indicating that the problem is still relevant.
“Arsenical Association: Inorganic Arsenic May Accumulate in the Meat of Treated Chickens” explains that iAs doesn’t pass through chickens without contamination. As a matter of fact, the known-carcinogen accumulates in the muscle tissue, the edible parts of the chicken.
Nitarsone is the name of the drug that essentially replaced roxarsone. It is similar in composition and still contains iAs. For one reason or another, this drug has been allowed to remain in the food system with no real fight from the FDA who had previously blasted roxarsone.
So what is the arsenic used for?
Niitarsone is given to chickens to help them grow faster and resist intestinal parasites, something that is difficult to avoid in the cramped and filthy conditions of today’s modern chicken production facilities (which are nothing like the farms of years passed). These drugs also give chicken meat that pink color rather than gray, a color preference that apparently does better on grocery store shelves.