For Immediate Release
Paige Tomaselli, Center for Food Safety, 415-826-2770
Ben Lilliston, IATP, 612-870-3416
John Bianchi, Goodman Media, 212-576-2700
FDA Petitioned to Ban Arsenic from Animal Feed
Groups Urge Government Ban of Common Additives Used in Feed for Chicken, Turkeys and Hogs
WASHINGTON - Today, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) filed a petition
with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling for the immediate
withdrawal of approvals for all animal drug applications for arsenic-containing
compounds used in animal feed. These additives are commonly used in
poultry production to induce faster weight gain and create the appearance of a
healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. The petition was
supported by a coalition of food and farm groups around the country.
"The fact that arsenic - a
known and powerful carcinogen - in these feed
additives leads to arsenic residue in chicken is now well known," said
the Center for Food Safety's Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell.
"FDA's failure to investigate the mounting evidence that these
compounds are unsafe is a breach of the public trust, and the use of arsenic-containing
compounds in food animal production is a needless and dangerous risk to human
"Arsenic can be
poisonous. Its use in animal feed, therefore, is unnecessarily risky and has
not been shown to be safe given the latest science," said David Wallinga,
M.D. of the IATP. "To best protect public health, all avoidable exposures
to arsenic should be eliminated. FDA can and should act."
compounds have been approved additives to animal feed since the 1940s and are currently used in chicken, turkey
and swine production. Most arsenic-containing animal feed additives are
not used to treat sickness. Instead, arsenicals are generally approved
for "increased weight gain, improved feed efficiency, and improved
pigmentation." The European Union has never approved the use of
arsenicals in animal feed, acknowledging the lack of science supporting health
or safety standards for such use.
compounds are most widely used in chicken production, and most chickens receive
arsenic-laced feed. In 2004 and 2005, the IATP
tested for total arsenic in retail packages of raw chicken and in
"fast food" chicken sandwiches and nuggets. Test results revealed
detectable levels of arsenic in the majority of both supermarket and fast food
chicken with higher levels found in brands of chicken raised
conventionally. Lower or non-detectable levels of arsenic were found in
certified organic and other "premium" brands where the use of
arsenic-containing feed additives were either legally prohibited or claimed not
to have been used. These results strongly suggest that use of
arsenic-containing compounds in poultry feed leads to arsenic residues in U.S.
marketed and eaten chicken.
weeks ago, U.S. Representative Steve Israel of New York announced legislation
calling for a ban on the use of the arsenical compound roxarsone in poultry
feed. His bill, the "Poison-Free Poultry Act of 2009," would
prohibit all uses of roxarsone as a food additive in poultry. The groups
applaud the bill, but maintain that it does not go far enough. Their
petition not only calls for a ban on roxarsone, but also on Arsanilic acid,
Nitarsone, and Carbarsone, commonly used compounds which contain arsenicals.
groups signing the petition include: Food Animal Concerns Trust, Oregon
Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Physicians for Social
Responsibility, Food and Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, National
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Center for Environmental Health, Institute
for a Sustainable Future, Health Care Without Harm and Ecology Center of
the full petition.
IATP's report on arsenic in poultry: Playing
Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat.
The Center for Food Safety
is national, non-profit, membership organization, founded in 1997, that works
to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food
production technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable
agriculture. On the web at: http://www.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.