Arsenic is used as a feed additive in poultry and swine production, in particular in the U.S. to increase weight gain, improve feed efficiency, and to prevent disease. An example is roxarsone, which had been used as a broiler starter by about 70% of U.S. broiler growers. The Poison-Free Poultry Act of 2009 proposes to ban the use of roxarsone in industrial swine and poultry production. Alpharma, a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., which produces Roxarsone, voluntarily suspended sales of the drug in response to studies showing elevated levels of inorganic arsenic, a carcinogen, in treated chickens. A successor to Alpharma, Zoetis, continues to sell nitarsone, primarily for use in turkeys.
Arsenic-based drugs are approved for use in animal feed in the US because they make animals grow quicker and make the meat appear pinker (i.e. “fresher”). The FDA claims these products are safe because they contain organic arsenic, which is less toxic than the other inorganic form, which is a known carcinogen. However, studies suggest the organic arsenic can transform into inorganic arsenic, which has been found in store-bought chickens sold in the US. The EU does not permit arsenic-based drugs in food animals.
Skip store bought poultry and go with locally raised and hopefully Arsenic free chickens and turkeys.