Thursday, June 9, 2011

FDA Suspends Use of Roxarsone, a Drug for Chickens

There's a lot of stuff in our food and much of it—pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, feed components—never appears on ingredient lists.

One invisible ingredient many of us have been eating unknowingly since the 1940s is 3-Nitro® (Roxarsone), Pfizer's arsenic-based drug administered to many of our chickens.

But, courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration, the drug's use will end next month. From the FDA website:

"FDA announced that Alpharma, a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc, will voluntarily suspend sale of the animal drug 3-Nitro® (Roxarsone) in response to a new FDA study of 100 broiler chickens that detected inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, at higher levels in the livers of chickens treated with the drug 3-Nitro® (Roxarsone) than in untreated chickens."
Organic arsenic, which is not carcinogenic, is the arsenic used in Roxarsone. The thought is that it somehow synthesizes into toxic inorganic arsenic after being given to chickens. For an inside look at how some of our tax dollars are spent, click here to read the FDA's "Questions and Answers Regarding 3-Nitro (Roxarsone)," a detailed explanation of a process that doesn't happen that often anymore.

According to the New York Times article about the removal:
"The F.D.A. once routinely conducted its own studies of animal and human drugs, but limited budgets led the agency to eliminate much of its scientific and laboratory capacity over the years. The roxarsone study is a triumph for agency scientists but one unlikely to be repeated very often. The agency asked for $183 million in additional funds for food safety efforts next year, but House Republicans have instead proposed cutting $87 million."
Being treaded on once every few weeks may not be the worst of things.


Anonymous said...

Rob, If you write about Roxarsone again, please mention that if you are alive and breathing in Navada, you inhale more arsnic than you would eat in chicken liver. Also, If you live in Richmond Virginia and drink an 8 oz glass of water, your would consume more arsnic than in eating chicken livers. Arsnic in in the air, soil, and water almost everywhere.

Anonymous said...

And that is apparently why it should be less concern to add extra to the diet of large portions of human population in chicken meat and the crops fertilized by that chicken's waste. Just like people who live downwind of Hiroshima or anywhere near the assortment of leaking nuclear plants get extra doses of radiation but shouldn't worry because bananas have radioactive isotopes. Right.