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    DynamicBalance's Avatar

    FDA admits supermarket chickens test positive for arsenic

    Unbelievable that the FDA insists that factory-farmed chicken is safe to eat, even though they are contaminated with arsenic (as well as eating an unnatural diet and living in an unnatural environment, which result in unhealthy chickens).......and yet they also insist that organic raw milk from pasture-raised cows is dangerous and should be banned! It's so blatantly clear where their loyalties lie. The FDA doesn't care if you're being poisoned day in and day out, so long as the source of that poisoning is a factory farm or an industrial food-like product. But they do care if you support local grass-based farmers! Does anyone else feel outraged by this?

    Laurel Blair, NTP

    by Tom Laskawy
    8 June 2011

    Back in March, Tom Philpott wrote about the "insane" practice of feeding factory-farmed chickens arsenic:

    The idea is that it makes them grow faster -- fast growth being the supreme goal of factory animal farming -- and helps control a common intestinal disease called coccidiosis.

    The industry emphasizes that the arsenic is applied in organic form, which isn't immediately toxic. "Organic" in the chemistry sense, that is, not the agricultural sense -- i.e., molecules containing carbon atoms as well as arsenic. Trouble is, arsenic shifts from organic to inorganic rather easily. Indeed, "arsenic in poultry manure is rapidly converted into an inorganic form that is highly water soluble and capable of moving into surface and ground water," write Keeve E. Nachman and Robert S. Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

    Inorganic arsenic is the highly poisonous stuff -- see the absurd and wonderful Cary Grant classic Arsenic and Old Lace, or the EPA's less whimsical take here and here [PDF]. The fact that the organic arsenic added to feed turns inorganic when it makes its way into manure is chilling, given the mountains of concentrated waste generated by factory poultry farms.

    One way farmers add arsenic to chicken feed is through drugs such as Pfizer's Roxarsone. And the industry has (as with most of its worst practices) strenuously defended the use of such additives. While the USDA has by and large ignored the risks (mostly in the form of an unwillingness to look for arsenic in chicken), finally -- astonishingly -- the FDA has acted.

    According to the Associated Press, the FDA has confirmed that chickens given the drug (frequently those destined for the low-cost supermarket shelf) do indeed test positive for inorganic arsenic -- just as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found [PDF] back in 2006. Despite this earlier evidence, the industry had continued to steadfastly maintain that the arsenic could not and did not make it into the meat.

    As part of its announcement, the FDA said the arsenic levels are low and represent no meaningful risk to those eating Roxarsone-treated chicken -- a point predictably emphasized by the National Chicken Council.

    Read the rest...
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