Arsenic in chickens

chicken of tomorrowAbout 70 percent of the 9 billion broiler chickens produced annually in the U.S. are fed an arsenic-based additive used in chicken feed that may pose health risks to humans. [story]

Under certain anaerobic conditions, within live chickens and on farm land, the additive Roxarsone may be altered into toxic arsenic.

In chicken feed, Roxarsone is used to promote growth, kill parasites and improve pigmentation of chicken meat.

Arsenic has been linked to bladder, lung, skin, kidney and colon cancer, while low-level exposures can lead to partial paralysis and diabetes.

No one knows the exact amount of arsenic found in chicken meat or ingested by consumers who frequently eat chicken. “Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Department of Agriculture has actually measured the level of arsenic in the poultry meat that most people consume. Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest poultry producer, has stopped using the compound.

So what does the modern consumer want in terms of food? Convenience.
Fully prepared meals, either from the supermarket deli or a foodservice establishment, are the ultimate in convenience. Spending on snacks and meals prepared by foodservice establishments now accounts for about half of total U.S. food spending. (see “The U.S. Broiler Industry”)

chicken of tomorrowUSDA report:
Today’s typical poultry meat began in the first third of the 20th century. However, chicken meat came from rather tough-meated older hens and young roosters that were byproducts of raising chickens for egg laying. The widespread practice of allowing birds to range in the barnyard hardened muscle fiber, yielding meat that was dry and strongly flavored.

Red meat rationing during World War II provided the spark needed to propel the industry forward. Poultry was not rationed, and broiler production increased. By the 1970s, companies such as Tyson re-organized the industry to avoid the wide price swings of commodity chicken production and stepped up their production of processed items, now achieving double-digit sales increases in its chicken and pork segments.

Healthy chickens. Healthy people.
A U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report reveals that the U.S. food and beverage industry is at $497 billion with healthful foods the primary growth market.

The EU has stricter limits for human food and animal feed, removing chemicals and by-products of chemical processes which seem to cause cancer and reproductive and immune system disorders in humans. They also bioaccumulate over time in fatty tissue.