January 4, 2016

 

No more arsenic-based drugs from 2016, FDA says

 

 

The FDA has withdrawn approval of all applications for nitarsone (an arsenic-based drug) in animal feed as of December 31, 2015. There are now no FDA-approved, arsenic-based drugs for use in food-producing animals.

 

Last April, the FDA received a letter of commitment from Zoetis Animal Health that the company will stop sales of Histostat, the trade name for nitarsone. This was then the only arsenic-based animal drug used in food animals. It was used for the prevention of disease in chickens and turkeys. Studies have shown that organic arsenic, the less toxic form of the chemical used in these drugs, can transform into inorganic arsenic, which is a known carcinogen.

 

In 2011, an FDA study found that higher levels of inorganic arsenic were found in chicken livers when the animals were fed roxarsone, another arsenic-based feed additive, compared to untreated chickens.

 

Arsenic was added to poultry feed when it was realised that it could induce faster weight gain and create a "healthy colour" in poultry meat.

 

In 2009, the Center for Food Safety threatened a lawsuit against the FDA and called for the immediate withdrawal of arsenic-based additives for used in chicken, turkey, and hog feed. In 2013, the FDA complied, and withdrew three of the four additives.

 

Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement that "the withdrawal of these harmful feed additives is a major victory for consumers and the health of our food system". 

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