Contrary to what the drug and poultry industries have claimed in the past, the chicken meat on your dinner plate may well contain arsenic, a known carcinogen, if the bird was fed arsenic-based drugs before it was slaughtered.
So says a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study, published this month in Environmental Health Perspective, provides more evidence that the use of arsenic-laced drugs, fed to chickens to make them grow faster and to improve their color, poses public health risks.
Arsenic in chicken waste, spread on fields as manure, has long been linked to cancer. In 2011, the U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA) announced a “voluntary suspension” of the arsenic-laced drug Roxarsone, originally sold by Pfizer, Inc., but now owned by its spinoff, Zoetis, after the agency found small amounts of arsenic in the chicken meat it tested. The FDA, which claims that the amounts are too small to be dangerous to humans, has yet to ban the use of the drug in the U.S. But growers who stockpiled it prior to Pfizer’s voluntary suspension, continue to use it. In January of this year (2013) Maryland became the first state to ban the use of Roxarsone and other arsenic-based drugs in chicken feed. Because, well, the FDA can’t seem to get the job done.