Maryland Bans The Use of Arsenic in Chicken Feed

Maryland Bans The Use Of Arsenic In Chicken Feed

Wed 06 Jun 2012

Story by The Food Revolution Team

Last week, Maryland became the first state in America to ban the use of arsenic in chicken feed.

On May 22, Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, signed a bill banning the use of arsenic in poultry feed, effective from the 1st of January 2013.

Used originally to treat an intestinal disease, arsenic has become more commonly used as a cosmetic additive in the feed given to broiler chickens (chickens raised specifically for meat production), after it was found to make them gain weight faster, and make their flesh a more appetising pink color.

The bill introduced in Maryland is the first of its kind and will prohibit people from ‘using, selling, or distributing specified commercial feed intended for use as poultry feed that contains roxarsone (the most common arsenic-based drug), or any other additive that contains arsenic’.

Food & Water Watch, a non-profit organization that advocates for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable drinking water, helped pass the legislation having worked for two years with activists, community members and legislators to ensure that this additive was banned from chicken production in the state.

Arsenic is known as a human carcinogen, meaning that exposure to it is known to cause cancer. While it is found naturally in the environment, inorganic arsenic is more harmful to human health, and exposure to inorganic arsenic over time is linked to certain cancers. Although levels of inorganic arsenic in chickens is not thought to be enough to cause any physical damage or pose a health risk, studies have shown that not only are there higher levels of arsenic in the chicken that consumers eat than originally thought, but also shown that the risk to human and environmental health is higher than thought when the government first approved the use of arsenic as a feed additive. While some chicken companies have stopped using feed that contains arsenic, Maryland is the first state to completely ban it.

Find out more in the Food and Water Watch Factsheet

Transparency Around The Food We Eat

Arsenic added to chicken feed is another lack of transparency over what is really in the food we eat. However, the ban in Maryland does show that real change can be made from grassroots actions.

Do you know what’s in the food you eat? Or what’s happening in your state with regards to arsenic and other drugs and antibiotics being used in chicken and animal feed?

Now is the time to find out, and stand up for real food.

Find out more:

Arsenic in our Chicken?

Maryland Set to Ban Arsenic-Containing Drug in Chicken Feed.

Maryland’s Governor Signs Bill Banning Arsenic in Poultry Feed.

The Food Revolution Team


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