Arsenic-based poulty feed additives intended to aid the growth of chickens is close to being banned in Maryland.
Maryland is set to become the first state to ban an arsenic additive in chicken feed, after state lawmakers passed a bill last month banning the use of Roxarsone, a chemical used to help chickens grow and fight parasites. Governor Martin O'Malley is expected to sign it this week and it would take effect January 1, 2013.
Roxarsone has been distributed by a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc., but the company stopped selling the chemical back in July after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found higher levels of inorganic arsenic in chicken that had eaten food treated with Roxarsone than in those that were not fed the chemical.
Arsenic is a known carcinogen.
Opponents argued the bill wasn't needed, since Pfizer voluntarily suspended sales of Roxarsone. The FDA has said it does not believe there's any need to stop eating chicken or to recall chicken meat already in the supply chain.