Arsenical Drug in Food Animal Production

Video Notes:

Arsenical Drugs- Roxarsone:

An additive in poultry and swine feed

Approved for growth promotion, improve pigmentation, and treatment of swine dysentery

88 percent of poultry production was raised using this drug

First approved in 1944

Tolerance levels were set for arsenic residues in meat products in 1951 to 2ppm in liver and 0.5 ppm in uncooked meat

NRC developed approach to chemical risk assessment in 1983

Fed to chickens to make the meat plumper and pinker and prevent infection by a digestive-tract parasite called coccidia.

Inside the chicken and in the manure the arsenic metabolizes into a highly toxic inorganic form that has been linked to cancer

Poultry manure is sometimes fed to cattle for supplement

FDA found low levels of inorganic arsenics in chicken liver

Some poultry waste is burned for energy and others that can’t be burned is released into the air

Runoff from farmland leaks arsenic into the Chesapeake Bay

Arsenic can remain for long periods of time in the soil.

Inorganic Arsenic Health Effects:

Arsenic is a human carcinogen to the lung, bladder, skin, and trans-placental carcinogen

Some noncancerous health effects are birth defects, renal effects, dermal effects, and immunologic effect, etc.

Acute toxicity would include irritation of lungs, throat, stomach, and skin

Regulatory Agencies:

Use of roxarsone creates environmental public health issues that extend beyond the jurisdiction of any single federal agency; drugs, food production, and food safety

This year is different because the state of knowledge has changed FDA study

State of public knowledge and intensity of advocacy coalition/organizing

Other states need to follow through more and have a more meaningful regulatory action


It still surprises me that even though arsenics are fatal to our health, we still fed it to animals to bulk them up and make their meat tasty. Why do I want to eat meat that has arsenic and other random chemicals? In 2012 they weren’t very positive of the percent of arsenic in animals that could be for the good. Maybe we have stopped using so many chemicals and found alternative methods of getting the quality of meat we all seem to love. Only one can hope! After watching all of these videos, it has brought me to open my eyes a little more and reconsider the food choices I make.

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