It seems like only yesterday headlines everywhere warned of dangerous levels of arsenic in rice.
The news was definitely a devastating blow, especially since the US Dietary Guidelines have been recommending people include this supposedly healthy whole grain in their diets many times a week (1).
As it turns out, brown rice, the whole grain federal nutritionists recommend over white rice, actually contains the highest amounts of arsenic and can cause serious neurotoxicity and even cancer if eaten regularly, especially in children, who are the most susceptible to this toxin (2, 3).
Well, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), rice isn’t the only arsenic-filled food you have to worry about. After countless years of simply ignoring the mounting evidence (4), the FDA admitted that the cancer-causing chemical does, in fact, exist in most grocery store chicken in the US. And while some people might give the FDA a break, thinking this has to be a “one-off” contamination, think again.
Arsenic In Chicken
Apparently, chicken suppliers have been purposely adding arsenic to chicken feed for decades and the FDA knew about it! Even worse, the governing agency notes in their own research that arsenic added to chicken fodder does, without a doubt, end up in the chicken meat you feed your family.
For close to sixty years, the FDA, prompted by execs in the billion-dollar poultry industry, had been spinning the unsubstantiated tale that any arsenic ingested by poultry was immediately excreted in their feces. While there has never been any scientific evidence to support this wild claim, the FDA chose, for close to six decades, to simply “play chicken” with your health, allowing this ridiculous practice by greedy chicken feed manufacturers and farmers to continue. But now the chickens have come home to roost in more ways than one.
A study conducted in 2011 by the FDA itself, showed high levels of inorganic arsenic in more than 70 percent of all US chickens (5).
Manufacturers of chicken feed claim that arsenic not only gives store-bought chicken meat an illusion of healthy coloring and plumpness but that it makes the birds grow faster and helps control coccidiosis, a common intestinal disease in poultry, especially birds that are cramped closely together like those in commercial chicken farms.
But, with this damning evidence staring the agency in the face, they could no longer turn a blind eye (6).
The Future OF Chicken
The FDA did not officially order Alpharma (a subsidiary of Pfizer), the leading manufacturer of the arsenic-filled chicken feed known as Roxarsone, to stop selling the feed, but company officials voluntarily agreed to pull the product in the US after reviewing the findings (7).
While this may seem like the ethical thing for officials of the pharmaceutical giant to have done, they also said that while they pulled the feed for sale in the US, it wasn’t necessarily going to remove it from feed products in other countries.
An article by the Associated Press reported that the company sells the ingredient in close to twelve other countries, but they would “reach out” to the regulatory authorities in those countries and decide whether or not they would continue to sell the poisonous feed on a case by case scenario (8).
While Pfizer claimed it halted any further sales of Roxarsone, they did not withdraw the ingredient right away, simply so chicken producers could have time to transition birds off the drug. So, in the interim, loads of feed was still being sold to farmers who continued to pump their birds full of the arsenic-filled feed before it was no longer available.
Despite their own undeniable evidence of arsenic-laden chicken meat, the FDA, in typical fashion, still claims today that any arsenic in chicken meat is extremely low and completely safe to consume (9). With the National Chicken Council also claiming arsenic contaminated chicken is safe to feed your family (10), the only way you can safely avoid this and other poisons in your chicken, is to be vigilant and buy only organic when you can.
Tips for Buying Store-Bought Chicken
- Always check the “best before” and “packaged on” dates.
- Any fat in the chicken should be white to deep yellow, never purchase any chicken that has pasty or gray colored fat.
- Chicken meat should not be unnaturally bright pink. Avoid any meat that looks too pink.
- Buy “Certified Organic” meat products when you can. It is on the only real way you can be assured what you and your family are eating is safe.