Would You Like a Side of Arsenic with Those McNuggets?

 In Editorial / Opinion, Environmental Medicine, Mind/Body

Mitch Kennedy, ND

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a non-profit food research group, has released a study on the use of arsenic in the poultry industry. The researchers sampled 150 packaged chicken products in supermarkets, including big names such as Purdue and Tyson, and 18 fast-food restaurants offering chicken products.

The US FDA allows the use of arsenic compounds in chicken feeds to kill parasites and increase muscle mass at a rapid rate. This quickens the time to market and allows the poultry company to churn out more meat in a given period of time. The FDA limit is 500ppb in tissues. The US EPA Clean Drinking Water Act has an arsenic limit of 10ppb. Poultry industry lobbyists claim no effect because the arsenic is in an organic format.

“The limits that are occasionally found are just incredibly infinitesimally miniscule and are no conceivable threat to human health,” says Richard Lobb of the National Chicken Council.

“What we found was that arsenic is widely present in raw supermarket chicken,” says David Wallinga, lead author on the research report, “Playing Chicken, Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat.”

The results show arsenic in tissues at levels up to 25ppb in supermarket brands and 46ppb in fast food. Among the highest supermarket brands were Purdue’s products, particularly the thighs and liver. The highest in fast-food products were the Church’s and Popeye’s thigh and breast meats. The lowest levels were found in organic chickens, and second-lowest were found in Tyson brand supermarket meats.

Arsenic is a known neurotoxin, mutagen, carcinogen and immunosuppressant. Poultry farm workers exposed to these feeds have shown signs of arsenic toxicity.

Sources: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat, available at www.iatp.org (May 2006).

Online CBS News Story: Available at www.cbs4boston.com/food/local_story_139073849.html


Kennedy-HeadshotMitch Kennedy, ND has a family practice in Avon, CT, and is the first ND with clinical privileges at the University of Connecticut, a teaching hospital. Before graduation from Southwest College, Kennedy earned an international reputation as a leader in pollution prevention, showing industries around the world how preventing pollution saves money. For more information: www.healwithnature.com.


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