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Study Finds Arsenic Widespread In Chicken

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Knowledge is power!
April 6, 2006

Brand name chicken products sold in American supermarkets and fast food restaurants are widely contaminated with arsenic, according to independent test results released by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Brand name chicken products tested by IATP included Foster Farms, Trader Joe's, Gold'n Plump, Perdue, Smart Chicken, and Tyson Foods. Fast food chains that had chicken products tested included McDonald's, Wendy's, Arby's, Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Church's and Popeyes.

The group claims testing of 155 samples from uncooked supermarket chicken products found 55 percent carried detectable arsenic. It said arsenic was more than twice as prevalent in conventional brands of supermarket chicken as in certified organic and other "premium" brands.

All 90 fast food chicken products tested by IATP also contained detectable arsenic.

Arsenic in chicken meat appears closely linked to the decades-old practice of intentionally and routinely putting arsenic into chicken feed. At least 70 percent of U.S. broiler chickens have been fed arsenic, according to estimates cited by the group.

"Adding arsenic to chicken feed is a needless and ultimately avoidable practice that only exposes more people to more of this ancient poison," said Dr. David Wallinga, a physician, author of "Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat," and director of IATP's Food and Health program.

"There is good news. Consumers can limit or eliminate their arsenic intake in chicken by making smart choices about which chicken to buy," said Wallinga. "Our testing found plenty of supermarket chicken without any detectable arsenic. Birds sold under organic labels can't legally be given arsenic. For other chicken, your best bet is to directly ask for some assurance from the producer, supermarket or restaurant that's selling it."

The group says the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not test for arsenic in the chicken breasts or thighs that Americans mostly eat, and does not make public results of its testing of individual brands.

The group said chicken products were purchased from supermarkets and fast food outlets in Minnesota and California and were analyzed for arsenic by a private, independent commercial laboratory.

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