Arsenic finds its way into the news again. Food Court first reported on research finding organic arsenic in apple juice, later reported on inorganic arsenic from pesticides appearing in rice, and now it’s been found in Chickens.
From Food Court News:
Two new studies show that chicken feed contains a wide range of additives so unexpected researchers were “floored” by the results.
The studies, published in the journals Environmental Science & Technology and Science of the Total Environment studied feather meal, which is a by-product of poultry processing. The study described feather meal as a common animal feed and potential pathway for drugs to entry the food supply.
The first study found that the feather meal samples they tested routinely contained the banned antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, such as the drug Cipro. This antibiotic was banned by the FDA in 2005. Its presence lends support to critics who complain the FDA does little to effectively address antibiotics in animal feed.
The study also found that most samples contained caffeine and one third of the samples contained the active antihistamine ingredient that is found in Benadryl.
Many samples also contained acetaminophen, the active painkilling ingredient in Tylenol. As if that weren’t enough, the samples tested that originated in China also contained the same active ingredient as the antidepressant Prozac.
The second study found that almost every sample studied contained Roxarsone, an organo-arsenic compound.
Mother Nature Network explained why these additives would be used in chicken feed.
The caffeine keeps chickens awake so they eat more. The Benadryl, acetaminophen and Prozac reduce their anxiety in order to speed up their growth and improve the taste of their meat. The arsenic is used to give poultry meat a pleasant pink color. It also reduced infections in chickens.
The levels of these substances aren’t “an immediate health concern,” co-author Keeve E. Nachman of Johns Hopkins told the New York Times.
The study looked only at feathers, not meat, so we don’t know exactly what chemicals reach the plate, or at what levels. The uncertainties emphasizes how little we know about the food we eat.
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