From the business section of today’s New York Times: Pfizer will suspend sales of 3-Nitro (roxarsone), a drug given to chickens to promote growth and make meat look pinker. Why? It contains arsenic, which the government has found in trace amounts in chickens.
Officials at the Food and Drug Administration said the amounts found were so low that chickens treated with the drug, called 3-Nitro, do not pose a serious health risk and will continue to be sold. Perdue and organic chicken producers do not use the drug [emphasis added].
“The presence of that carcinogenic residue obviously raises concerns, and it’s completely avoidable,” said Michael R. Taylor, F.D.A.’s deputy commissioner for foods. “It needed to be acted on.”
The drug was first approved in 1944. It has never undergone a “full scientific assessment.” Pfizer will have 30 days to suspend sales. Chickens already treated with the drug will be allowed to be processed and sold.
Every year, the U.S. produces about 37 billion pounds of chicken. That’s 80 pounds per American.