Nearly 100% of conventionally-raised chicken is contaminated with cancer-causing arsenic

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chicken-parts(NaturalHealth365) In 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a report denouncing an arsenic drug being used in conventional poultry and pigs. That drug is called 3-Nitro® or roxarsone – a known carcinogen to humans – used to treat poultry feed which in turn treats intestinal parasites in chicken and gives them an appealing pink color. In 2010, an estimated 88 percent of about 9 billion chickens raised for human consumption in the United States were treated with roxarsone.

In response to the FDA’s report, the producers of 3-Nitro® – Alpharma (a subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc. and now goes by the name Zoetis, Inc.) voluntarily began a suspension process for its sales. Their final withdraw took three years and ended in late February 2014 when the FDA formally withdrew the drug’s approval.

Even though conventional chicken is no longer threatened by roxarsone, the arsenic scare isn’t over. A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives indicates that inorganic arsenic is still a threat to conventional chicken in the United States.

More dangerous than roxarsone, inorganic arsenic accumulates in the meat of treated chicken

Cramped and filthy, it’s no wonder that today’s modern chicken production facilities need to treat their chicken to resist parasites and grow faster. Unfortunately, most conventionally-raised chicken in the United States are intentionally contaminated with inorganic arsenic.

According to the Environmental Health Perspectives study, analysis showed that conventional chicken contains high amounts of inorganic arsenic. Mega samples were taken from three categories of chicken:

1. Conventional chickens in which arsenical drugs were used.

2. Conventional antibiotic-free chickens in which arsenical drugs was unlikely but possibly used.

3. Certified organic chicken in which arsenical feed was not used.

The results were clear that inorganic arsenic was highest in cooked conventional chicken meat (1.8 µg/kg) and lowest in certified organic chicken meat (0.6 µg/kg). The difference is astounding.

Detrimental health problems are a result of eating arsenic-laced chicken

According to several studies, devastating health outcomes are a result of eating animal meats induced with arsenic. According to the several studies, arsenic toxicity is species dependent and is well established for inorganic arsenic in humans.

It is associated with chronic disease such as:

Additionally, the United States Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry’s Environmental Health and Medicine Education reports that arsenic toxicity effects most of the body’s system:

  • Gastrointestinal
  • Hepatic
  • Renal
  • Cardiovascular
  • Neurologic
  • Dermal (skin)
  • Respiratory
  • Hematopoietic
  • Reproductive

Replacement for roxarsone is still being used on chicken and is just as dangerous

When roxarsone and two similar drugs (arsanilic acid and carbasone) were recalled by the FDA in early 2014, another arsenic drug called “nitarsone” was left to be used on chicken and turkey for human consumption. Currently, it is the only arsenic-based animal drug that is currently approved for use in food animals.

In April 2015, the FDA announced its pending withdrawal of approval for nitarsone. Zoetis, Inc. (the producer of the drug) makes three forms of the drug. They have pledged to stop marketing it by the end of 2015 and upon the FDA’s formal withdrawal.

But, how many years will it actually take before the drug is completely banned for use in the foods we eat? It took three years for Roxasone, arsanilic acid, and carbasone to be formally banned. Still yet, the FDA still allowed food manufacturers to sell already packaged animal foods that were fed the harmful substances.

When a drug is banned, the ‘phase out’ plans can still take years to complete.

Just because the FDA or food/drug manufacturer pledges to stop using a harmful substance doesn’t mean that they will immediately do so. A pledge is not set in stone, and it’s a process – a long process – to make changes. Sadly, phase out plans can take years.

About the author: Abby Campbell is a medical, health, and nutrition research writer. She’s dedicated to helping people live a healthy lifestyle in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Abby practices, writes, and coaches on natural preventive care, nutritional medicine, and complementary and alternative therapy.


Roxarsone, Inorganic Arsenic, and Other Arsenic Species in Chicken: A U.S.-Based Market Basket Sample

Arsenical Association: Inorganic Arsenic May Accumulate in the Meat of Treated Chickens

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  • Kevin Hanity

    There are natural alternatives to the way chickens are raised, but the profits would go down. In addition, consumers are rewarding these practices by both seeking and purchasing products which contain all sorts of harmful ingredients.

    One of the keys to changing to more natural ingredients would be the consumers response at the market place. Chickens, which are commercially raised and processed are big sellers both in the supermarkets and fast food establishments.

    • wc

      That’s the problem, the price of the chicken goes up then. My grandma had chickens when I was a kid, she spent a fortune on organic feed for them. The chicken at the farmers market in my area is double the price of the chicken you can buy at a supermarket and many people just don’t want to spend that much. And many people don’t want to cut down on other things to afford organic food, that’s why conventional chicken is so popular. I have talked to some people about voting with their forks and they just don’t seem to care that much and a lot of them are in denial about the chemicals.

      • Mandy Schulze

        I agree most people aren’t going to believe organic is better or spend extra on it.These are the same people who take medication without questioning it.

  • Rebeca Shaffer

    Chicken soup for a cold may not mean any chicken. At one time all you did was run to the supermarket and pick up a roaster or frying chicken and throw it into a pot of boiling water with vegetables.

    Now, you have to question where does the chicken come from. You don’t want to fight a cold and cause another illness. Times sure have changed.

  • Donald Tyler

    Chicken and Turkeys have been recalled many times because of the illnesses they could spread. You have to handle poultry very carefully due to the bacteria contamination. This is the price for the way they are raised and handled.

    Many times they are being processed in China and sent back to the U.S. This global transporting of food is going to cause more food safety issues.

  • Nathen W

    There are many people who are in areas where they can keep chickens and many homeowners choose to do so. People are starting their own gardens and raising their own food. If ever there was a time to start doing that it is now.

  • Jody

    Seems nothing is safe to eat anymore, they are destroying vegetables with their spraying and antibiotics in meats and now this in Chicken.

  • Niomi

    The majority of consumers buy conventionally raised chickens without knowing the health risks. Thank you for a very informative article.

  • Rhonda

    What kind of chicken do they use in commercial baby food jars? I know their are organic brands, but most parents aren’t aware of the dangers. There should be more reporting of these facts.

  • joanmccall135

    There are many problems with chicken, but one of them is not listed. I have a hunch that the antibiotics used to fatten up animals also fatten up the consumer. Those who eat the meat of animals get all the nutritional benefits; Wouldn’t they also get all the detrimental effects? We have a worldwide obesity epidemic as the population continues to eat more and more animal protein. Just thinking….

  • Ida Rosen

    An old fashion chicken dinner has sure change. The new version puts everyone at the table in danger.

  • Phyllis

    This is just getting ridiculous. We make our own raw chicken food for our kitties and admittedly use conventionally produced chicken. I think we’re going to stop after reading about this. We’ve been aware of the antibiotics and hormones being used, but we just can’t afford organic chicken. Then there’s all the chicken in other canned pet foods as well. (sigh) We’ve lost two kitties to cancer in the past couple years. How do we keep our pet family members healthy and strong as well as ourselves these days? Not all of us can produce our own food for whatever reason, and tight budgets keep us buying at the supermarket rather than the organic farmer’s market.