News 526 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Arsenic in chicken feed may be harmful

A new study finds that an arsenic-based compound fed to chickens in the United States may be more dangerous than previously thought.

Arsenic-based feed additives are banned in Europe but the USDA allows Roxarsone to be used in chicken feed to prevent parasitic diseases. According to the USDA, feeding Roxarsone is safe because the arsenic is the organic variety.

Converts to inorganic
However, arsenic-based compound fed to chickens may be more dangerous than previously thought. A researcher at Duquesne University has found evidence that the arsenic converts to the inorganic kind when it combines with bacteria in chicken manure. That manure is used for fertilizer and can leak into waterways.
"Farmers spread manure with arsenic in it all over their land as fertilizer, and we don't know what the risks are."said Carole Morison, a contract grower for Perdue on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Although Perdue still uses Roxarsone in chicken feed, Tyson, the largest US chicken producer, announced last year it was abandoning arsenic additives.

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