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Cancer causing arsenic found in chicken

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July 13, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- Avid readers might have learnt that the Food Drug Administration (FDA) has set the arsenic limit for apple juice at 10 ppb, which is the same as the standard for drinking water set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Food consumers need to know life-time exposure to such a level of arsenic in apple juice can result in 8 cancers per 1 million people, which is the estimate released by the FDA. 

Drinking water and apple juice are not the only source of arsenic.  Chicken and rice are another two major dietary sources of arsenic.  A recent study by Johns Hopkins University has tested 116 raw and 142 cooked samples for total arsenic, and 78 samples were found to exceed 10 ppb of arsenic on a dry weight basis.

Keeve E. Nachman and colleagues tested chicken in three categories, conventionally grown, antibiotic free, and organic chicken and found conventional chicken contained significantly higher arsenic than antibiotic free chicken and organic chicken.  Among the samples that contained more 10 ppb, conventional chicken, antibiotic free and organic chicken contained 1.8 ug/kg, 0.7 ug/kg and 0.6 ug/kg, respectively.

The arsenic containing drug called Roxarsone used to promote the growth of chicken was detected in 20 out of 40 conventional chicken samples, compared with one in 13 antibiotic free samples and none of the 25 organic samples.  In chicken samples where Roxarsone was detected, arsenic concentrations were much higher than those in roxarsone negative chicken samples, 2.3 ug/kg versus 0.8 ug/kg.

Based on intake of one 82-gram serving of chicken per day which gets the consumer 0.11 ug of arsenic per day, the researchers estimated the lifetime exposure would cause 3.7 cases of bladder and lung cancer per 100,000 exposed persons. (reporting by Jimmy Downs)

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