A popular chicken feed additive which has been in use since the 1960's containing arsenic to produce pinker, healthier, big breasted birds could cause diseases in humans according to a study headed by a Duquesne University researcher.
The feed additive is used by commercial chicken producers to control intestinal parasites, reduce stress, stimulate growth and improve the color of chicken meat.
Laboratory analysis shows that the antibiotic arsenic compound roxarsone, which promotes the growth of blood vessels in chickens to produce pinker meat, does the same in human cell lines.
This is a critical first step in many human diseases, including cancer. It's actually hard to find any other information on this besides the study and the published report on Environmental Perspective.
The technical term for growth of blood vessels is called angiogenesis, and roxarsone was found to do just that in humans. Which means that people who eat chicken sandwiches from McDonald's everyday could be exposing themselves through chronic exposure in small amounts. Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic is known to cause cancer and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and declines in brain functions. The study doesn't focus on the risks of eating chickens that were fed roxarsone, but there are reasons to be cautious.
U.S. chicken producers use a total of 2.2 million pounds of roxarsone each year. About 70 percent of the 9 billion fryer chickens grown annually nationwide eat feed containing the additive, which also is used in turkey and pig feed.
More than 95 percent of the roxarsone fed to chickens is excreted unchanged in chicken waste, which is regularly applied as fertilizer on surrounding farm fields or used in commercial fertilizers. The arsenic from those applications could leach into surface and ground water supplies. Just another reason to be worried about our meat supply.