Yes, arsenic ... a poison to the human body. Added to chickens to help reduce parasitic disease and promote growth when raising large flocks for food production. This is not the only use of arsenic in our dietary environment. It is common practice that this poison is purposely added to our drinking water, farm raised fish and even rice production. And all we really thought we had to worry about was the flu!
OKAY? - Beef, it's what's for dinner!
Excerpts from the New York Times via FMI Daily Lead -
Chicken With Arsenic? Is That O.K.?
By MARIAN BURROS Published: April 5, 2006
ARSENIC may be called the king of poisons, but it is everywhere: in the environment, in the water we drink and sometimes in the food we eat.
The amount is not enough to kill anyone in one fell swoop, but arsenic is a recognized cancer-causing agent and many experts say that no level should be considered safe. Arsenic may also contribute to other life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes, and to a decline in mental functioning.
Human exposure to it has been compounded because the consumption of chicken has exploded. In 1960, each American ate 28 pounds of chicken a year. For 2005, the figure is estimated at about 87 pounds per person. In spite of this threefold rise, the F.D.A. tolerance level for arsenic in chicken of 500 parts per billion, set decades ago, has not been revised.
"When this source of arsenic is added to others, the exposure is cumulative, and people could be in trouble," said Dr. Ted Schettler, a physician and the science director at the Science & Environmental Health Network, founded by a consortium of environmental groups.
Those at greatest risk from arsenic are small children and people who consume chicken at a higher rate than what is considered average: two ounces per day for a 154-pound person. The good news for consumers is that arsenic-free chicken is more readily available than it has been in the past, as more processors eliminate its use.
McDonald's, the country's largest fast-food chain, said it does not use chicken with arsenic but the test revealed the presence of more than incidental amounts. Perhaps the chickens were purchased before the company started demanding arsenic-free chickens a couple of years ago.
Because there are still many more arsenic-fed than arsenic-free chickens for sale, consumers can reduce their exposure by buying from companies that have stopped using arsenic, or by choosing chickens labeled organic or antibiotic-free. They can also remove the skin from the chicken treated with arsenic, which reduces levels significantly.
PETA should be a little more vocal about the human toll chickens bring to our lives instead of worrying about the condition of the lives of chickens themselves.