Commend Banning of Three Arsenic Drugs Used in Animal Feeds


Target: Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg

Goal: Commend the banning of toxic drugs being used in feeds for pigs and poultry

The Food and Drug Administration has banned three drugs containing arsenic that were previously used in feed for pigs, chickens, and turkeys. Recent studies showed abnormally high levels of arsenic in chickens as a result of eating arsenic compounds called roxarsone, carbarsone, and arsanillic acid, indicating the toxic effect the drugs have one these animals. After the ban, no other feed additives containing arsenic are being used in the United States.

All three compounds have been used in farm animal feed for years to promote growth, increase feed efficiency, and prevent diseases. A whopping one hundred and one drugs added to the feed contained roxarsone, carbarsone, and arsanillic acid. Two companies who market the arsenic drugs, Zoetis and Fleming Labs, had already pulled roxarsone off the market two years ago after realizing it was causing higher arsenic levels in animals than those that occur naturally. Now, as they have moved to get carbarsone and arsanillic acid withdrawn from the market, the Food and Drug Administration has preempted the companies and rescinded its approval of all three.

In the wake of consumer awareness of arsenic contaminating rice, this is an important victory. Although arsenic can creep into rice via water used in the irrigation process, it can also come from the fertilizer used to plant it, which often contains poultry feces. Fertilizer with this ingredient is used in the planting of a variety of crops, and thus contaminates them with arsenic as well. Now that our farm animals no longer need to consume arsenic, it is less likely that we will too.

The use of roxarson, carbarsone, and arsanillic acid in animal feed is no longer legal, thanks to a ban by the Food and Drug Administration. This makes us and our pigs, chickens, and turkeys a little healthier. Commend the FDA for banning these arsenic contaminants from animal feed.


Dear Ms. Hamburg,

Thank you for banning roxarsone, carbarsone, and arsanilic acid from being used in the feed of our farm animals. The compounds were toxic, causing abnormally high levels of arsenic in chickens, turkeys, and pigs. Ultimately, providing feed containing arsenic drugs affected not only the animals consuming it, but the public as well.

Now that arsenic compounds have been banned from animal feed, consumers will be safer. Before, we were eating chicken, turkey, and pork that was contaminated, as well as ingesting crops fertilized by animals who were being fed arsenic. We commend you for keeping arsenic out of our farm animals’ feed supply, and protecting consumer health in that regard.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Liz West via Flickr

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