EXPOSED: The hidden health threat in every bite of chicken
Wake up and smell the arsenic, America. It’s in your chicken. And it’s been put there intentionally.
Factory chicken farms routinely feed an arsenic-based feed additive to millions of chickens across the nation in order to protect against infection. They insist it’s safe, but it’s anything but.
The reality is that detectable levels of arsenic have been found in the chicken sold in grocery stores and fast food restaurants. Arsenic is even making its way into the soil and groundwater and could be to blame for much of the country’s skyrocketing cancer rates.
If you’re waiting for the FDA to do anything about it, don’t hold your breath. They’ve known about this for YEARS, yet they haven’t done a single thing to regulate the practice or to ensure your safety.
Recently, this dangerous practice has been making headlines. At first glance, the propaganda machine paints the drug companies and the FDA as caring, life-saving superheroes. Those stories tell all about the FDA’s own tests that “discovered” dangerous arsenic levels in the meat——and the drug company’s near immediate announcement that it would be banning this dangerous food additive.
Sure, it sounds good——until you hear the rest of the story. That’s what I’m here for. It’s time to look past the headlines, and find out…
The scary truth behind the intentional nationwide poultry contamination
Back in the 1940s, the poultry industry began using a feed additive in order to help control parasitic infections in chickens. The drug, called roxarsone, also had a few side effects that were irresistible to the chicken industry: They made the chickens grow faster, and they gave them that rosy-pink hue consumers have come to associate with “healthy” chicken.
Can you say, “Cha-ching”?
The drug company and the poultry industry were too busy seeing green to see the red warning signs——the ones indicating that this feed additive could be capable of widespread contamination and devastating health consequences.
And that’s exactly what it’s done. In fact, this shameful practice could be to blame for the…
Mysterious CANCER CLUSTERS terrorizing communities across the nation
A cancer cluster occurs when a high number of cancers pop up in one particular location. Like in the town of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, for example. In this town of only 2,500, three teenage boys developed testicular cancer within four years. Three children living on the same street developed pediatric leukemia. Two of them died.
All told, there have been at least 21 documented pediatric cancer cases——and even more cases of adult cancers. Even in today’s cancer-ridden society, that’s a lot of cancer.
One of the things all of these people have in common: the local chicken factory. When chickens are fed arsenic, it doesn’t just stay in the chicken. It gets deposited in the chicken waste, which is then used as a fertilizer. That’s when the damage really begins.
As Johns Hopkins researchers discovered, areas where the manure from chickens gets spread had elevated levels of inorganic arsenic levels in their tap water.
Big Chicken defends itself by saying that it uses organic arsenic, a safer version than the inorganic arsenic that has been connected to cancer. That may be true——but here’s what else is true: This benign substance rapidly converts into the toxic inorganic form in the intestinal tracts of chicken and in poultry waste.
Exposure to the toxic form of arsenic has been shown time and again to increase the risk of lung cancer. Other studies have indicated that it could also increase your risk for skin, stomach, bladder, colon, testicular, and kidney cancer, leukemias and lymphomas. Low-level exposure has also been linked to partial paralysis and diabetes.
That’s just the biggies. Less severe side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; skin discoloration; and numbness in the hands and feet.
A report published in Environmental Science & Technology in 2006 determined that when the waste is recycled into fertilizer, it contaminates the soil, the water, and crops in the area in which it’s spread.
This is especially dangerous for any poultry-producing area——and is exactly the reason why efforts are currently underway in Maryland to ban arsenic-based drugs from being used in the feed of poultry operations.
Maryland’s Eastern Shore is the Poultry Capital of the Nation. In 2007, Maryland sold nearly 300 million broiler chickens.
That’s not just a lot of chicken——that’s a lot of chicken poop. It’s estimated that…
Between 11 and 12 metric tons of arsenic is applied to agricultural land every year via waste
Millions of chickens equal billions of pounds of animal waste every year. This leads to significant arsenic runoff into the soil and waterways of surrounding areas. Groundwater tests on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay’s Coastal Plains have found that some household wells have up to 13 times the EPA’s tolerance limit for arsenic.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said, “The poultry industry’s continued use of arsenic creates entirely unnecessary and avoidable risks to our health and environment. The time to protect our families and the environment from the hazards of this dangerous chemical is long overdue.”
I couldn’t agree with him more. But if you think the recent headlines indicate this is happening, you’d be mistaken.
Roxarsone: Another regulatory failure
Like I told you earlier, none of this is news to anyone who is anyone in this industry.
• Fifteen years ago, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy published a report showing that 55 percent of grocery store chicken and 100 percent of chicken from fast food restaurants tested contained detectable amounts of arsenic.
• Twelve years ago, the European Union had collected enough evidence to ban the use of roxarsone.
• Seven years ago, an article in Chemical Engineering News reported the findings of a USDA researcher who examined the drug company’s own technical data. It showed that chickens that had been treated with roxarsone had 3 to 4 times more arsenic levels in their meat.
• Five years ago, scientific literature identified roxarsone as a potential public health threat.
Yet all this time, the U.S.’s largest producer of roxarsone was still going full speed ahead, and U.S. farmers were still dumping 2 million pounds of it into chicken feed every single year.
It wasn’t until earlier this year that the FDA finally tested chicken for traces of this cancer-causing compound. And when they did, they found (surprise!) significantly higher levels of inorganic arsenic levels in meat from roxarsone-treated birds.
On the heels of that finding, Pfizer pulled the plug on roxarsone within a month. To the uneducated masses, it appeared as if the FDA was doing its due diligence, and that the drug company acted swiftly for the safety of the general public.
The truth is, despite appearances, the FDA took absolutely no regulatory action against roxarsone itself, or the use of arsenic in chicken feed in general. Pfizer wasn’t forced to stop using the drug. The company voluntarily pulled the plug on this practice in order to save face. Ultimately, the use of roxarsone is still perfectly legal.
There you have it, folks. The FDA has lived up to its name: Failed to Deliver Again.
The only acceptable action for the FDA to take is to ban arsenic-containing drugs from animal feed. Period. But I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that the FDA refuses to regulate this substance——or the fact that…
The FDA insists that arsenic poses no health risk
Despite the FDA’s own research, they still maintain that continuing to eat chicken poses no health threat. It’s an absurd statement based on the current absurd “acceptable levels of arsenic in poultry” (as if there is such a thing as an acceptable level).
But this number is entirely too low——and is based on a number that hasn’t been revised in more that 60 years. Back when the chicken industry first got the green light to begin using arsenic as an additive to chicken feed, Americans consumed an average of 20 pounds of chicken a year. Since then, that number has tripled to more than 60 pounds of chicken a year.
In all that time, no one has found it necessary to revisit those “acceptable levels.” Obviously, this poses the greatest danger to the heaviest chicken eaters. And with the government scaring the public away from the consumption of the greatest food known to man——red meat——just about every single person in American has become a “heavy chicken eater.”
But let’s be real here. Even if those “acceptable levels” were revised, it wouldn’t actually mean anything. The FDA rarely checks up on the industry anyway. According to a Food & Water Watch report earlier this year…
“Between 2000 and 2008, the USDA tested only 1 out of every 12 million domestically produced chickens.”
None of this would be a problem if confined animal feeding operations didn’t have such deplorable conditions. These birds are crammed by the tens of thousands into confined houses where they have little access to sunlight and are forced to eat, sleep, and walk in their own feces. It’s no wonder infections like coccidiosis are so common.
The quickest, safest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to eliminate this health threat would be to ban the use of arsenic-based feed additives. And if the chickens can’t survive in their current conditions without arsenic being pumped into their feed, maybe it’s time to change their conditions.
The FDA has acknowledged the presence of arsenic in your chicken, has acknowledged the health risks of roxarsone, yet has refused to take any action to protect you from its health risks. Clearly the country’s regulatory agencies aren’t doing any regulating. Which means, as usual, your personal health and safety is completely up to you.
The only way to truly know what’s in your chicken is either raise your own, or get your chicken from a source you trust. Thanks to the Internet revolution, it’s easier to find local sources than ever before. In doing so, not only would you be guaranteeing yourself healthier, better-tasting chicken, but you’d also be contributing to the salvation of independent farmers that have been pushed to the brink of extinction by big commercial operations.
The Local Harvest website (www.localharvest.org) puts all of the local farms at your fingertips. Just type in your city and state, and you’ll receive a full list of all the sellers in your area.