May 30, 2012

Arsenic in chicken feed?

Yikes, arsenic is being fed to chickens? Since the 1940s? Why? It seems that adding Roxardine (a drug containing arsenic) to poultry feed killed "cocci," an intestinal parasite found in chickens. Side benefits soon discovered by the poultry industry were faster weight gain (growth promoter) and added color. So the practice continued even in chickens with no cocci, with many farmers exposed to arsenic too.

But yeah for Maryland--the first state to ban that practice. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley just signed legislation banning arsenic in poultry feed. The bill goes into effect in January 2013.

Thank you, Food and Water Watch, for working so hard to make this happen. But the poultry industry might take advantage of a loophole, so don't celebrate prematurely.

The Maryland legislation specifies “feed,” but not water. And arsenicals are available in liquid form and can be delivered through the drinking water. Oops.

Thank you, Aileen Weber, for prompting this posting.