FDA chickens out by removing arsenic from feed

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3-Nitro may sound like the name of a formidable opponent on American Gladiator, but it’s actually an animal drug given to pigs and poultry to promote their growth and has been in use since 1944. But Pfizer, maker of the compound, is “voluntarily” removing it from the market after the FDA found that chickens treated with 3-Nitro (Roxarsone) have higher levels of inorganic arsenic — a human carcinogen at high doses — in their livers, compared to non-treated poultry. The drug was originally approved because it is comprised of organic arsenic, which is not carcinogenic, but new research demonstrates that tiny amounts of this may be converted into the inorganic form.

What people may not realize is that inorganic arsenic is a natural substance found in our food, such as potatoes, and in our water supply at various levels, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross.

“Actually, by removing it, many consumers will now think that there was a problem with chicken feed when, in fact, there was none to begin with,” adds ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “This is yet another example of corporations — at the instigation of the FDA, in this instance — caving to ‘public concern’ as opposed to sticking to the science.”