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Arsenic in Chicken & Brown Rice Syrup

Last week, a group of Dartmouth researchers released an analysis of foods containing organic brown rice syrup that found concerning levels of arsenic, a human carcinogen also associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neuropathy, and neurocognitive deficits in children. This follows on the heels of studies uncovering arsenic in apple juice and chicken. The arsenic in apple juice is thought to come from arsenic-containing pesticides still in use in countries such as China, but how did arsenic get into the chicken? The poultry industry fed it to them.

Every year an estimated two million pounds of arsenic-containing chemicals have been fed to chickens in the United States. Why would the industry do such a thing? When tens of thousands of birds are crammed into filthy, football field-sized sheds to lie beak-to-beak in their own waste, they can become so heavily infested with internal parasites that adding arsenic to the feed to poison the bugs can result in a dramatic increase in the birds’ growth rates. Also, arsenic can give the carcass a pinkish tinge, which consumers prefer.

Though arsenic-based feed additives have been banned in Europe for over a decade, they continue to be legal in the United States. One drug company announced a suspension of sales last year after the FDA found a particularly toxic form of arsenic in chickens given feed laced with one of the arsenic-containing drugs, but another arsenic-containing poultry drug remains on the market (nitarsone).

Based on the USDA estimates of arsenic levels in the U.S. chicken supply, the prestigious Medical Letter on the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration concluded, “Chicken consumption may contribute significant amounts of arsenic to total arsenic exposure of the U.S. population….Levels of arsenic in chicken are so high that other sources may have to be monitored carefully to prevent undue toxic exposure among the population.” For more, see my NutritionFacts.org video pick above.

It reminds me of the dairy industry adding aluminum to processed cheese to improve sliceability (see Aluminum in Vaccines vs. Food).

For more videos on sources of arsenic, see Fish Intake Biomarker about arsenic in seafood, Avoiding Iodine Deficiency for the arsenic levels in the seaweed hijiki, Some Ayurvedic Medicine Worse Than Lead Paint Exposure about supplements, and for background about the organic sweetener, Arsenic in Rice.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: Mr. Muskrat / Flickr

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Read more: Cancer, Diabetes, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Health & Safety, Heart & Vascular Disease, News & Issues, Videos, Videos, Videos, , , , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org.

69 comments

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7:42AM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:28PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

thanks :)

12:14PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

terrible

8:49AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Disgusting!

4:07AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

This is scary.....

9:17PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

WTF is the FDA doing about this - nothing. Guess they want to just kill us all.
This is insane. Makes you wonder if there is anything really safe to eat (other than your own garden grown foods)

5:49PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

thanks! another raeson to buy organic

7:12PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Thank-you for the warnings ♥

12:39PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Interesting article.

7:24AM PST on Feb 27, 2012

WELL ONE GOOD THING THE BABYS WON'T GROW UP AND ABUSE ANIMALS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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