19th Jun 2010

Arsenic in Pet Food

In the U.S., arsenic-based additives (in particular, Roxarsone) are frequently included in chicken feed to promote growth, kill parasites, and improve the appearance the meat. In Europe the use of arsenic is strictly prohibited as a feed additive.

It has been shown that most chicken products (including muscle meat, liver, and whole chicken) sold in the U.S. contain detectable arsenic levels. Notably, arsenic was more than twice as prevalent in conventional chicken as it was in a variety of premium brands. It is estimated that at least 70 percent of chickens raised in the U.S. are being fed arsenic-laced feed.

Consumer Reports found no detectable arsenic in USDA certified organic chicken samples. Birds that are certified organic can’t legally be fed food that contains arsenic, and even a few conventional poultry producers (e.g., Tyson Foods) have voluntarily abandoned the use of arsenic-containing feeds.

Since arsenic does not degrade, it tends to accumulate in the body, and when it is excreted, it accumulates in our soil and water. Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause cancer and a number of other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, paralysis, and neurological disorders.

Although the levels of arsenic found in chicken meat may be comparatively low in a single serving, cumulative exposures to arsenic is, of course, a major issue.

Arsenic feed additives affect not only the health of your pet, they also contribute to the contamination of critical agricultural soils and our water supply.

What you can do:

Apart from supporting efforts to ban arsenic feed additives, you can choose USDA certified organic pet foods, products that, according to regulations and through strict enforcement, cannot include ingredients from arsenic-fed chicken.

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