Maryland is First State to Ban Arsenic in Chicken Feed

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This feels appropriate, considering the recent research about all the creepy chemicals our chickens are eating:  Maryland is just about to become the first state in the U.S. to ban arsenic in chicken feed.

You may be wondering why anyone would feed a chicken arsenic in the first place. (Unless, say, the chicken was in an Agatha Christie novel, and had just come into a large inheritance.) But while arsenic is certainly a poison — and has been shown to contribute to diabetes and heart disease — it’s also used to fight parasites in animals.  The arsenic-containing drug roxarsone, manufactured by Pfizer, also promotes blood vessel growth, which can make meat appear pinker and plumper. Purdue and McDonald’s both refuse to feed it to their chickens. Canada and the European Union prohibit it as well.

“We know arsenic causes cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” said Delegate Tom Hucker, a democrat from Montgomery County who sponsored the bill. “We’ll never know how much is caused by arsenic in chicken, but we do know it’s highly avoidable.” And having a healthier population isn’t the only upside to the legislation:  “I would think it’s a huge marketing opportunity for Maryland chicken growers to let consumers know only Maryland chickens are guaranteed to be free of arsenic,” Hucker said.

Maryland ranks tenth in the U.S. for chicken production; the birds account for 40 percent of the state’s farm revenue.



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