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article imageArsenic, antihistamines and antibiotics fed to chickens

By Katerina Nikolas     Apr 7, 2012 in Food
Beef consumers who were shocked to discover they were routinely eating pink slime now must face news that the chicken industry also routinely feeds chickens with reprocessed chicken feathers, which tested positive for arsenic and other ingredients.
In a study published by CLF researchers analysed the feather meal routinely fed to chickens. Feather meal is a "by product of poultry production made from poultry feathers... to determine what drugs poultry may have received prior to their slaughter and sale."
The study revealed some interesting findings. Despite a 2005 ban on its use, fluoroquinolones antibiotics were discovered in the feather meal. Alongside the antibiotics researchers also found "the pain reliever acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), the antihistamine diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) and the antidepressant fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac)." Caffeine was also found.
According to the New York Times another study published in the Science of the Total Environment, found arsenic contained in the feather meal. Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies, said “We were kind of floored, it's unbelievable what we found."
Quoted by Nine News Nachman also said of the studies "What it says to me is that we really need to do a more thorough investigation of what drug residues are left behind in chicken meat, as a result of what we choose to feed animals."
The National Chicken Council reminds consumers the studies analysed only feathers rather than the meat of the chicken. They released a statement saying "Chickens in the United States produced for meat are NOT given ‘arsenic’ as an additive in chicken feed, or any of the other compounds mentioned in these studies." They say that the sensitive testing methodologies used by the researchers "can detect bioaccumulation of just about anything – even if the compound or antibiotic has not been used in years or was never used."
However Nachman's conclusions from the study recommended "We strongly believe that the FDA should monitor what drugs are going into animal feed. Based on what we’ve learned, I’m concerned that the new FDA guidance documents, which call for voluntary action from industry, will be ineffectual. By looking into feather meal, and uncovering a drug banned nearly 6 years ago, we have very little confidence that the food animal production industry can be left to regulate itself.”
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