The Food and Drug Administration said Pfizer Inc. will stop the sale of the animal drug 3-Nitro that's used in some chicken feed after an agency analysis detected a "very low" level of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with the drug.
The FDA said the levels of inorganic arsenic
, a carcinogen, detected were very low and that there is no health risk from eating chicken treated with 3-Nitro.
The FDA said when combined with other animal drugs, 3-Nitro has been used by some in the poultry industry to help control the parasitic disease coccidiosis and for weight gain.
It's not immediately clear how many chicken producers use the product. Tyson Foods Inc., US’ largest chicken producers, stopped using the product a few years ago.
FDA developed a new test that was capable of detecting very low levels of inorganic arsenic in edible tissue.
It said it recently conducted a study of 100 broiler chickens which detected inorganic arsenic at higher levels in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro compared with untreated chickens.
Arsenic is in the environment as a naturally occurring substance or as a contaminant, FDA said, and is found in water, air, soil and food.
The FDA said published scientific reports have shown that organic arsenic, a less toxic form of arsenic and the form present in 3-Nitro could transform into inorganic arsenic.
Pfizer said sale of 3-Nitro would be stopped by early July in order to allow animal producer to transition to other treatments.
The company said the level of inorganic arsenic found in the chicken livers "is equivalent to the amount of inorganic arsenic found in an eight-ounce glass of drinking water."
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