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Be wary of spring chickens

Did you know that standard poultry producers feed trace amounts of arsenic to their broilers? In small amounts, the well-known poison stimulates the birds’ appetites and helps fight certain diseases that can spread rapidly in confinement facilities. A survey published in Environmental Health Perspectives sheds light on how much arsenic makes it to our dinner plates.

The researchers determined that there was 0.39 ppm of arsenic in the meat of young broiler chickens, the type of chicken that fills the meat cases at your local supermarket. They calculated this was “3–4 fold higher than in other poultry and meat. People who eat typical amounts of chicken may ingest 1.38–5.24 mcg a day from chicken alone.” They concluded that “These concentrations are higher than previously recognized in chicken,” and went on to say it may be wise to recalculate how much of the poison that consumers are ingesting on a daily basis.

Pastured poultry are not treated with arsenic or any other toxic substances.

(Lasky, T., W. Sun, et al. (2004). "Mean total arsenic concentrations in chicken 1989-2000 and estimated exposures for consumers of chicken." Environ Health Perspect 112(1): 18-21.

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