Like Some Arsenic With That Bird? You Got It.

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When sitting down to for your Thanksgiving feast Thursday evening, you probably don’t expect to eat some arsenic — unless perhaps you are a member of the Borgia family.

However, according to science writer Deborah Blum in an L.A. Times op-ed, trace amounts of arsenic — enough to produce a cancer risk — are found in American chicken and turkey, due to the use of an arsenic-containing poultry feed called Roxarsone. The strangely-named substance is banned in Europe but used in the U.S. to make meat look fresher.

Blum writes:

[A]rsenic does turn up in trace amounts when grocery store poultry packages are tested. A 2006 project by a Minnesota-based advocacy group, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, found the poison in 55% of chicken parts (breast, thighs and livers) tested. Just to give you a few more numbers: The highest amount — 21.2 parts per million — occurred in generic brands; the least in organic products. The maximum amount allowed by the FDA in chicken meat is 2 parts per million, set some decades ago. For those who want another comparison, the EPA considers 10 parts per billion in drinking water to be high enough to pose a cancer risk.

Anyone for Tofurkey?