Legal Articles

May 11, 2013

Arsenic levels in chicken may increase risk of cancer

Johns Hopkins researchers have taken  a closer look at one of the highest consumed meat products in the United States and have found troubling results. Arsenic levels in chicken were found to exceed what occurs naturally. This small increase has no immediate effect on humans, but researchers warned, “they could lead to a small increase in the risk of cancer for consumers over a lifetime.”

Arsenic safety levels set in 1940s

Though the levels of arsenic found were still below the safety threshold set by the Food and Drug Administration, researchers pointed out that these levels were established in the 1940s. The chicken samples tested were from chickens bred in 2010 and 2011, and since that time the sales of  roxarsone, an organic compound used in poultry known to contribute to elevated arsenic levels, has been suspended. However, this drug has not been banned and is still being used abroad.

Roxarsone sales suspended, not banned

According to research done by The New York Times, “Roxarsone, known by its brand name 3-Nitro, kills intestinal parasites, promotes growth, and makes the meat look pinker.” One of its ingredients is organic arsenic, which for many years was believed to be excreted. However, new evidence seems to indicate that some part of it is actually absorbed and converted into a carcinogen in the body of the chicken. 

An FDA spokeswoman has addressed this issue, saying the agency, “continues to investigate all uses of arsenic-based drugs in food-producing animals and will take the appropriate action to protect public health.”


Site design and development by Design Spike®, Inc.