Arsenic in Chicken: Does chicken meat contain arsenic? Are chickens fed arsenic?
Is there arsenic in chicken meat?
Although it sounds scary, arsenic is a naturally occurring element in our environment that is present within the earth’s soil, air and water.
As a result, very small amounts of arsenic can be found naturally in a variety of food and beverage products— including fruits, vegetables, fruit juices, grains, fish and even chicken – grown both organically and traditionally. It is also detected in drinking water. The level of arsenic typically found in food and water is largely considered to be benign.
All chicken produced in the United States is inspected by the USDA. The USDA monitors the food supply for arsenic and other chemicals. USDA tests samples from chickens against the FDA tolerance level. The number of samples that have violated the level in the last 25 years is zero.
Are chickens raised for meat in the U.S. fed arsenic?
No. Chickens in the United States produced for meat, known as broilers, are not given arsenic as an additive in chicken feed.
Some broiler flocks used to be given feed that contained a product called 3-Nitro, a feed medicine containing the organic arsenical roxarsone that included safe levels of organic arsenic. Even though science shows that such low levels of arsenic do not harm chickens or the people eating them, feed containing 3-Nitro was removed from the market in June of 2011 and it is no longer used in raising broilers in the United States. No other products containing arsenic are currently used in broiler meat production in the U.S. On October 1, 2013, the marketing authorization was officially withdrawn for 3-Nitro. The decision to withdraw the marketing authorization follows the suspension of U.S. sales of this product, on July 8, 2011.
I read a post on the Internet that said the “FDA Finally Admits Chicken Meat Contains Cancer-Causing Arsenic.” Is this true?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets tolerance levels for arsenic in foods and beverages. The agency has never stated that chicken meat contains cancer-causing arsenic.
For chicken, FDA’s arsenic limit is two parts per million in liver and other edible byproducts and one-half part (0.5) per million in muscle meat. The FDA has done testing of cooked food and found arsenic at only one-twenty-fifth of the safe tolerance level in chicken.
In 2015, Snopes debunked the false claim that, “FDA announced in 2015 that 70% of chickens contain cancer-causing arsenic.”
What is being done to ensure the safety of the chicken I eat and feed to my family?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides oversight and guidance to ensure food and beverages in the U.S. are safe for you and your family. Through its Total Diet Study, FDA has been monitoring arsenic in the food supply for years.
Further, USDA monitors the food supply for arsenic and other chemicals. USDA tests samples from chickens against the FDA tolerance level. The number of samples that have violated the level in the last 25 years is zero.
What’s the bottom line?
All chicken produced in the United States is inspected by the USDA. Inspectors test meat samples for chemical residues; all poultry must be in compliance with USDA standards before entering the marketplace. Chicken consistently has the safest record of any meat product tested for residues by USDA.
Looking for more information about arsenic in chicken?
- Snopes debunks false claim that, “FDA announced in 2015 that 70% of chickens contain cancer-causing arsenic.”
- International Food Information Council Foundation: Arsenic and our Food: The Facts
- National Chicken Council: Arsenic and Other Compounds Not Fed to Chickens
- National Chicken Council: FDA Denies Citizen Petition on Arsenic-based Animal Drugs