Stop Contaminating Worldwide Food Supplies with Arsenic-Laced Chicken Feed

Target:  Ms. Grace Ann Arnold, Head of Pfizer’s Global Supply Network and Environmental Health and Safety

Goal:  Stop selling toxic chicken feed additive Roxarsone overseas.

In 2011, the FDA announced findings of higher levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with the feed additive Roxarsone than in the livers of untreated control chickens.  The manufacturer Pfizer agreed to pull all of its supply from U.S. shelves, but decided to keep selling the product internationally.  Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen, and if it’s not safe enough for American consumers, it is not safe enough for consumers worldwide.

Organic arsenic is a natural element found in trace quantities in rock, soil, water and air.  Inorganic arsenic, a more toxic form of arsenic, is found in higher concentrations in some areas due to certain human activities.  Higher levels of inorganic arsenic can be dangerous and cause cancer.  Since the 1940s, organic arsenic has been added to conventional chicken feed to kill parasites.  It also causes chickens to grow bigger faster, and changes the color of their flesh.  Previously reports that arsenic ingested all came out in a chicken’s excrement has since been proven false by current scientific data.  Studies indicate higher inorganic arsenic levels in the livers of Roxarsone-treated chickens.  The existence of higher levels of inorganic arsenic also suggests that the organic arsenic ingested is transforming into the more dangerous form of arsenic.  Each American eats on average more than 25 pounds of chicken every year and cows routinely eat chicken coop floor waste in large-scale feedlots.  Both humans and animals are eating chicken meat contaminated with arsenic, possibly risking their health and well-being.  Arsenic excreted by the chickens also poses a major health and environmental threat; feces runoff from chicken farms and fertilizer made from chicken waste may be polluting groundwater, lakes, oceans and other bodies of water.

The FDA study findings found that Roxarsone-treated birds were found to have more than 800 times more total arsenic in their livers and 14 times more total arsenic in their meat than untreated birds.  Roxarsone-treated birds had 300 times more total arsenic in their livers and and ninefold more in their meat even after a 5 day washout period. The study also found that some Roxarsone treated birds tested fairly high for arsenic levels at 2,900 parts per billion, far exceeding the FDA tolerance level of 2,000 parts per billion.  Alpharma LLC, a subsidiary of Pfizer, voluntarily pulled Roxarsone off of U.S. shelves after the findings and should be applauded for this move.  However, they are continuing to sell this product abroad, currently carrying in approximately 12 countries.  Scott Brown of Pfizer Animal Health’s Veterinary Medicine Research and Development division said that Pfizer would decide on whether or not to sell Roxarsone to individual countries based on each country’s regulations.

Pfizer needs to protect all consumers, not just Americans.  All human beings deserve to be protected in important issues such as the food supply.  Our global neighbors should be able to trust American products and American companies, knowing that they have their best interests as heart.  Knowingly selling an additive that is tainting the food supply and damaging the environment is unconscionable and sends out a horrible message of indifference and greed.  Please sign the petition below urging Pfizer to voluntarily remove Roxarsone off all shelves for good.


Dear Ms. Grace Ann Arnold,

Thank you so much for pulling Roxarsone off of U.S. shelves due to FDA findings of higher levels of inorganic arsenic in tested chickens’ liver tissues.  But please do not stop there.  I urge you to pull all remaining Roxarsone product off of shelves worldwide.

Our global neighbors and friends should not be exposed to this toxic and cancer-causing ingredient.   And we should not continue to sell a product that is contaminating and polluting our groundwater, lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water.  Pfizer and other American countries should hold themselves to the highest standard when protecting human beings and animals and should put the welfare of people first and foremost above sales and profits.

Please do not wait for regulatory approval from other countries before making your decision.  Do the right thing now and stop selling Roxarsone immediately.

Thank you for your time.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: SMcGarnigle via Flickr

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