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Arsenic in Chicken

The poultry industry feeds their birds millions of pounds of arsenic-containing drugs every year.

January 1, 2010 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited



Arsenic is bad stuff—no argument, but most of the arsenic in the American diet comes not from rice; more than three quarters comes from animal products. Beef, milk, pork, hot dogs, eggs, and… chicken.
Purdue is the most contaminated. One bucket of American fast food chicken may exceed the EPA safety limit for arsenic in a glass of drinking water by 2000%.
How did it get there? The poultry industry fed it to them. Two million pounds of arsenic compounds are fed to chickens every year in the United States, and about 85 tons fed to pigs. Here’s the list of arsenic-containing feed additives approved by the FDA.
But why would the industry do that? Why do we feed millions of pounds of arsenic compounds to chickens every year. Here’s one of the chemical company ads: “Livestock and profits growing healthy together.” Approved by the FDA to increase the rate of weight gain. When you cram tens of thousands of birds into filthy football field-sized sheds to lie beak to beak in their own waste they become so heavily infested with internal parasites that adding arsenic to the feed to poison the bugs can result in a dramatic increase in growth rates. It’s also approved for use to “improve pigmentation.” Arsenic can give the carcass a pinkish tinge, which consumers prefer.
So the industry gets more profit; the consumers get the pink—what’s the downside? Landmark review in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences last year out of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. What are the public health consequences of extra dietary arsenic? extra cancer risk, heart disease, diabetes, neuropathy, and neurocognitive deficits in children, not something to crow about.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on chicken. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Dr. Oz, apple juice, and arsenic: chicken may have ten times moreAdding FDA-Approved Viruses to Meat, How Much Arsenic In Rice Came From Chickens?, and When a Scraped Knee May Once Again Kill.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on chicken. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  •'ReydioShow/ Lolas\’ Reydio Show

    thank you very much for this great truth

  • drrggibbs

    3-Nitro has been withdrawn from the market.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      That is just one of the many arsenic-containing feed additives approved for use in the United States. It’s great that sales of one of them, 4-Hydroxy-3-nitrobenzenearsonic acid (3-Nitro®), was suspended, but we need a ban so all of them are pulled from the market. See Food and Water Watch’s report last year “Poison Free Poultry.”

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Dr. Oz, apple juice, and arsenic: chicken may have ten times more!

  • Kay

    I eat a plant-based diet for good reasons, but friends and family tell me they feel they ‘have to have meat’ to feel good. I don’t agree, but that’s their opinion. I am wondering for their sake, does buying simply “organic” chicken solve this arsenic  ingestion problem? Or would it have to be organic, free-range? Or kosher? Does the arsenic feed only apply to factory farm chickens that  are not organic?

  • LumLum2500

    I watched your video “Pandemic Prevention:  Bird Flu and Emerging Infectious Diseases.”  If you put it on this web site more people will quit eating chicken.

  • beccadoggie10

    The USDA does NOT allow arsenic in organic poultry.

    “Farmers and ranchers must accommodate the health and natural behavior of their animals year-round. For example, organic livestock must be:
    Generally, managed organically from the last third of gestation (mammals) or second day of life (poultry).
    Allowed year-round access to the outdoors except under specific conditions (e.g., inclement weather).

    Raised on certified organic land meeting all organic crop production standards. Raised per animal health and welfare standards.

    Fed 100 percent certified organic feed, except for trace minerals and vitamins used to meet the animal’s nutritional requirements.

    “…Managed without antibiotics, added growth hormones, mammalian or avian byproducts, or other prohibited feed ingredients (e.g., urea, manure, or arsenic compounds).”

  • Hans Lak

    Chicken Meat contains Arsenic? FDA… so what?

    Do you think its time for CHANGE? FDA
    could easily and immediately fix the problem,” said Paige Tomaselli,
    senior staff attorney with CFS, “but instead puts its head in the sand.
    We can only conclude the FDA is catering to the companies that continue
    to sell products containing arsenic that ends up in our food supply.” Is this a PROBLEM?
    David Gross •

    There was a big scare when Dr. Oz found arsenic in apple juice.

    Then rice.

    There is a difference between inorganic and organic arsenic.

    Total arsenic may not be something to worry about.

  • david monkey

    what can I eat that is not poisoned? Meat, veggies, and fruits all are full of crap, now what? Where do you go, what can you eat?

    • Elizabeth W Hudetz

      And then of course since we’re killing all the bees…
      Remember when all food was organic?

    • Dawn C

      David Monkey–I feel the same way!

  • sarah

    where does brown rice fall on this graph?

  • Koo

    I’m amazed! Thanks for the information. Now please what do you think about
    1. The chemicals they use in growing and preserving fruits and vegetables?
    2. Is drinking distill water better than tap water since tap water has been found to contain many chemical?

  • Jan Fredericks

    The agri-business for farm animals is evil. They don’t care about animals or people. Thank you for telling the truth. The FDA is also finally talking about removing antibiotics from farm animals.