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ARSENIC in pet food???!!!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I was reading Buyer Beware by Susan Thixton (it arrived a few days ago). She mentions that arsenic (yes, the deadly poison) is an approved ingredient for animal feed. WHAT? I did some research after reading this and found a few articles. http://www.thedogpress.com/DogFood/Arsenic-In-Dogfood_Liquorman-11.asp
The FDA believed that most of the arsenic would be excreted in poultry droppings.  That sounded good in the 40s - if you discount the arsenic remaining in the flesh which is then eaten by humans and their pets.   But it isn’t just in poultry.  FDA considers processed feathers and poultry barn waste (including feces) an acceptable source of protein for cattle feed, even though it has been shown to contain arsenic ingested by the poultry.
The process for making chicken meal which concentrates deadly fluoride {1} also concentrates arsenic when it is present in the chicken.  We assume that the FDA gave little or no thought to pet foods made from poisoned chickens and so far, infertility or health problems have not been traced to pet food containing chickens laced with arsenic.  As an aside, did you know there are also arsenic compounds in heartworm medication?


What do you guys think?
post #2 of 13

without reading the articles, i'd guess trace amounts.  kind of like the 66 deady gases released by smoking cigarettes (cyanide, carbon monoxide, etc.)  i'm not saying it's healthy by any means, just something that would take years to accumulate to a recognizably fatal dose.


the FDA and whatever other governing agencies have been hideously lax for decades about cattle and poultry feed, so that doesn't surprise me a bit.  arsenic probably isn't the worst thing to be concerned about though.

post #3 of 13

It gets worse. After that she wrote about propylene glycol in pet foods! cwm15.gif Thixton must have been as surprised as I was to see PG and arsenic listed.


It looks to me like chicken feces might get into pet food.

post #4 of 13

I feel that she might just thrive on being a bit of a rebel alarmist, sorta reeks of the EWG ( environmental working group.) I would have a lot more admiration for her watchdog alarms if she didn't charge for the findings. Information is a powerful weapon, it should be shared for non com gratis, JMO. She has brought attention to the pet food industry. 

post #5 of 13

More about arsenic: It is one of many toxic heavy metals added in much higher amounts than the federal limit. Others include: uranium, mercury, lead, nickel, cadmium, thorium, and thalium. They are also found in human chicken, sardines, and tuna, but in much lower amounts. Dry is more dangerous than wet in the heavy metals department (no surprise) but wet food also has unacceptable amounts of them.

post #6 of 13
Originally Posted by cinderflower View Post

without reading the articles, i'd guess trace amounts.  kind of like the 66 deady gases released by smoking cigarettes (cyanide, carbon monoxide, etc.)  i'm not saying it's healthy by any means, just something that would take years to accumulate to a recognizably fatal dose.

the FDA and whatever other governing agencies have been hideously lax for decades about cattle and poultry feed, so that doesn't surprise me a bit.  arsenic probably isn't the worst thing to be concerned about though.

It'll make you glad you haven't been eating meat...

But actually, Pfizer pulled its feed with arsenic (temporarily, pending studies) in it last year: http://www.thefoodenvironment.com/2011/08/chicken-arsenic.html I don't know what their market share was, or what percent of chickens are still fed arsenic. Perdue claims not to use it in chicken feed any longer.
Chicken, Now Available with Less Poison

By Michael Crupain, MD, MPH

(Note: This Article was originally published in the American College of Preventive Medicine Resident Physician Newsletter)

Many people would probably be surprised to find out that arsenic, the metalloid element sometimes referred to as “the king of poisons”, has been a common additive to chicken feed for over 60 years. Organic arsenic is the active component in Roxarsone, a drug that is fed to birds in order to speed growth, kill parasites, and improve the cosmetic appearance of their meat. It is estimated that about 2 million pounds of Roxarsone are fed to conventionally raised chickens each year and according to one industry representative 88% of all chickens receive the drug.

As of July 8, 2011, however, Pfizer the maker of Roxarsone, has voluntarily suspended sales of the drug. This moves comes on the heels of an FDA study in which increased levels of inorganic arsenic were detected in the livers of chickens fed Roxarsone.

While chickens are fed Roxarsone, an organic form of arsenic, recent studies have suggested that the arsenic can be converted to the toxic inorganic form, by bacteria present inside a chicken’s gastrointestinal tract and in chicken manure.

Inorganic arsenic is classified as carcinogenic to humans, and chronic, low level exposures are associated with medical complications including damage to cells and chromosomes, which can lead to skin, bladder, liver, and lung cancers as well as conditions such as heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, anemia, diabetes mellitus, and peripheral neuropathy. New data also suggests that arsenic may be an endocrine disruptor.

The United States Food and Drug Administration originally approved Roxarsone for use in animals in 1944. The FDA risk assessments on the safety of arsenic containing drugs was done over half-a-century ago with data supplied by the industry about residue levels in meat and the estimated average per-capita chicken consumption at that time. Since then, however, the amount of chicken consumed in the United States has increased dramatically. While in 1960’s the average American ate approximately 28lbs of chicken per year, by the year 2010 the average annual per capita consumption had tripled to almost 90lbs. This means that consumers are likely being exposed to significantly higher levels of arsenic than would have been considered during the original studies assessment conducted by FDA. Industry trade groups have repeatedly asserted that studies that have examined arsenic residues in chicken have found the levels to be less than the permissible tolerances set by the FDA. Despite this, these tolerances were set in the 1950s, without the benefit of the public health research community’s current understanding of arsenic’s carcinogenic effects and potential to induce other adverse health outcomes. In addition, chicken waste containing arsenic can contaminate the water that people drink as well as the meat of other food animals and potting soil mixtures.

Surprisingly, arsenic-containing feeds have been shown not to be cost effective to industry. In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research, investigators found that chickens fed a diet without arsenic or other growth promoting antimicrobials were statistically indistinguishable from chickens that were fed arsenic and other antimicrobials (the researchers actually saw a trend for increased production indices in the chickens not fed the drugs). Under pressure from public health advocates, both Foster Farms and Perdue, two of the countries biggest chicken producers, have both claimed to stop using arsenic containing drugs in their chicken feeds and these drugs have never been approved for use in the EU and should not used in organically grown chickens.

It is noteworthy that while sales of Roxarsone have been voluntarily suspended by its domestic manufacturer, the FDA has not withdrawn its approval of the drug. According to the New York Times, Pfizer plans to do full scientific assessment of the drug before it tries to return it to the market.

”While a voluntary cessation of sale of arsenical drugs may sound like a step in the right direction, FDA should do its job and withdraw the approval for Roxarsone,” says Dr. Keeve Nachman of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “Allowing Pfizer to self-police sets a bad precedent with regard to how FDA handles legitimate public health concerns associated with drugs used in food animal production.”

One of the largest chicken factory farming areas for chicken is the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware). The arsenic-laced chicken waste is used as a fertilizer (and roughage feed in cows) - and the Chesapeake Bay is suffering from the run-off. http://grist.org/factory-farms/2011-03-03-time-to-end-insane-practice-of-lacing-chicken-feed-with-arsenic/
Unfortunately, one of the few places the poultry industry has chosen to concentrate itself is on the Delmarva Peninsula, a tri-state (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) land spit that juts out into the Chesapeake Bay, historically one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and now nearly an ecological wasteland. Some 1,700 chicken operations produce 11 million chickens per week on this relatively small spit of land. As Nachman and Lawrence point out, the Delmarva poultry industry generates a $hit-ton (my word, not theirs) of manure: between 12 million to 39 million tons every year. How much inorganic arsenic makes it into Delmarva groundwater from that fecal onslaught? Food and Water Watch speaks:

Researchers estimate that between 11 and 12 metric tons of arsenic are applied to agricultural land there every year via poultry waste. Groundwater tests on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay’s Coastal Plains found arsenic in some household wells reaching up to 13 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tolerance limit.

As to arsenic in our food...
Then there’s the question of arsenic traces in industrial chicken meat. In 2006, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) tested chicken samples from supermarkets and fast-food joints — and found that 55 percent contained detectable arsenic. Citing the EPA, IATP reckons that 55 percent of arsenic found in poultry meat is inorganic, i.e., toxic. And here’s another way arsenic from poultry feed gets into the food supply: the jaw-dropping, mind-boggling practice of feeding chicken **** to cows. But that’s a topic for another post — one, in fact, that I’ve already written.

If you're interested in the topic, it's worth linking over to the article. Almost everything is linked to source info, and that's lost in the copy/paste translation.
post #7 of 13
Yes, the concept of factory farming is insanely depressing.
post #8 of 13

I had thought that arsenic had been prohibited from food since the 50s, at least in Canada.


What you don't know about arsenic: it was used in minute doses to treat anorexia in mammals  (including humans) for decades. It was effective but accidental overdose was very common.

post #9 of 13

Susan Thixton wrote this about arsenic in the book Buyer Beware (pages 75-76):




Arsenic in Animal Food


This is one of those ridiculous but true stories. Arsenic, the deadly poison and known carcinogen, is an allowed ingredient in some animal feed.


The Alliance for Natural Health reports that last December (2010), the Center for Food Safety and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy filed a petition with the FDA asking for the  removal of arsenic-containing compounds used in animal feeds. "Most arsenic -containing animal feed additives are not used to treat sickness. Instead, these additives are commonly used in poultry production the induce faster weight gain and give the meat a healthy-looking color; the same techniques are used to a lesser extent in turkeys and hogs."


In 2006, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy published a startling paper titled, "Playing Chicken, Avoiding Arsenic In Your Meat." While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) claims that none or very little of the arsenic put into chicken feed makes its way into the meat, this organization tested raw chicken purchased from supermarkets and fried chicken purchased from fast food chains. They found that most uncooked chicken products (55%) contained "detectable arsenic" and many fast food chickens "carried some detectable arsenic" as well. (This is a very fascinating and well-written report.)


There is no available information of arsenic levels in chicken meat used in pet foods. Because many pets eat chicken-based food and eat that food every day of their lives (unlike humans who might only consume chicken two or three times a week), this is a huge concern for pet owners. If a pet food does or does not contain arsenic depends on the chicken producer the pet food company purchases from. My guess would be few, if any, pet food companies test for arsenic levels in their chicken or chicken meal. However, again considering that many pets eat chicken-based pet food day in and day out for years, this should be a consideration for all concientious pet food companies. So if you pet food companies are listening out there, please test for arsenic levels and provide those test results on your website.


For pet owners who feed raw or home-cooked food with chicken to your pets, the above Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy paper lists the raw chicken companies they tested and levels of arsenic found.


On page 97, Thixton listed parts per billion of arsenic in pet and human foods:




As - Arsenic


Pet Food Average 95 ppb

Pet Food Max 290 ppb

Human Tuna - 14 ppb

Human Sardines - 30 ppb

Human Chicken - 4.4 ppb

post #10 of 13
There is organic and inorganic arsenic. I don't remember which one is considered safe but rice and rice products have been found to.contain arsenic. One of the types of arsenic is in the soil where rice grow and apparently it is evident in the rice. I don't have a source; I read an article in the paper some time ago. The FDA allows a certain amount of insect bits in human food. So why would anyone think.that the pet food industry would step up? If companies and regulatory bodies don't give a damn about the human food industry why would they give a damn about pets? Propylene glycol is put into pet food to sweeten it. Apparently a certain amount is allowed by the fda. A while ago I emailed Purina about why there waS pg and hydorchloric acid in kibble & bits. The reply was that pg was allowed in certain amounts but no answer on the hydrochloric acid. I'm sure the concentration of the acid wasn't the same as the stuff you used in high school but nonetheless, what is it doing in pet food? If we really knew what we eat, we'd be sick.
post #11 of 13
From the link above: http://grist.org/factory-farms/2011-03-03-time-to-end-insane-practice-of-lacing-chicken-feed-with-arsenic/
Trouble is, arsenic shifts from organic to inorganic rather easily. Indeed, “arsenic in poultry manure is rapidly converted into an inorganic form that is highly water soluble and capable of moving into surface and ground water,” write Keeve E. Nachman and Robert S. Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

Inorganic arsenic is the highly poisonous stuff — see the absurd and wonderful Cary Grant classic Arsenic and Old Lace, or the EPA’s less whimsical take here and here [PDF]. The fact that the organic arsenic added to feed turns inorganic when it makes its way into manure is chilling, given the mountains of concentrated waste generated by factory poultry farms.

....Then there’s the question of arsenic traces in industrial chicken meat. In 2006, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) tested chicken samples from supermarkets and fast-food joints — and found that 55 percent contained detectable arsenic. Citing the EPA, IATP reckons that 55 percent of arsenic found in poultry meat is inorganic, i.e., toxic. [/quote]
post #12 of 13
Originally Posted by LDG View Post

It'll make you glad you haven't been eating meat...
i already am laughing02.gif.  every day.  i'm not smug about it, it's just a choice i made a long time ago and i've never regretted it.  i don't mind not eating eggs either, and i quit drinking milk when i was about 12.  unfortunately, i do have to get protein from something lol (i can't thrive on spicy dust) and have been using probiotics for the last 30 years (people in the hospital thought i was crazy---HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW lol) (for all the people who laughed at me and said, "EWWW why do you want to eat LIVE BACTERIA?") (okay i am self-satisfied over probiotics because people jeered at me and now it's huge)  i do buy stoneyfield but now i prefer fage 0% plain.  i use soy protein sometimes and i also use wheat gluten for seitan, a non-meat eater's best friend.  years ago i thought it would be impossible to give up cheese, but not really.  if i just have to eat something that it's on, i will , but not even every month.  there's not a really good replacement for cream cheese, and i hate soy cheese, i don't care what anyone says. laughing02.gif  it's kind of like how i feel about ice cream.  NO LIGHT crap, if i'm going to eat it, ben & jerry's.  come on.  not every day, or even every month, but if you want something good, eat it, not some stupid facsimile.
i don't really like to use soy milk as a replacement so i don't eat dry cereal, just oatmeal.  i will request soy milk if i go to starbucks, and that's about it.
but what are the kitties supposed to do?  they can't do all this tweaking and while i can assimilate plant-based proteins and even combine grains (or use quinoa) for perfect protein, they can't.
post #13 of 13

Does anyone have statistics on arsenic-related illnesses in cats? It would be interesting to see how big the risk is.

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