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Consumer Advocates Call For End To Arsenic In Chicken Feed

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Local consumer advocates are ruffling feathers over arsenic additives in poultry feed.
Elliott Francis
Local consumer advocates are ruffling feathers over arsenic additives in poultry feed.

With Thanksgiving turkey dinners just two weeks away, some consumer advocates are raising awareness about a popular additive used in poultry feed.

Roxarsone is approved by the FDA as a common drug supplement for animal feed. It's used to reduce the spread of a parasitic disease among chickens and other poultry. Problem is, Roxarsone's chief ingredient is arsenic.

"Of all the things to add. Arsenic. Yikes!" says Caroline Taylor, director of the Montgomery County Countryside Alliance.

Although many in the poultry industry maintain that the feed is safe, health officials say chronic exposure to arsenic may increase the risk of cancer, cardiovascular problems and whole list of other health issues.

According to Taylor, if consumers demand and purchase poultry which lists additives, the industry might change its ways.

"Producers and the distribution chain are becoming more informed, and once the demand is there, producers who use this archaic practice are going to give way and stop doing it," Taylor says.

Consumer advocates say alternatives for Roxarsone are available. They're calling for a moratorium on arsenic feed additives pending a human health impact review.

WAMU 88.5

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