Eating factory-farmed turkey for Thanksgiving? You may be eating arsenic.

Los Angeles Times: "Most commercial-grade poultry feed today contains an arsenic-based pesticide. Like the Victorians, farmers use the poison because of its ability to improve appearances -- in this case because arsenic's potent effect on blood vessels makes the chicken and turkey we buy look pinker and therefore fresher."



  1. But my Mom is still going to make fun of my Tofurkey (“are you really going to eat that thing?”). sigh.

    1. I never really saw the point in emulating meat for a vegetarian diet; it always seemed like it kind of defeated the purpose. Also, tofurkey has gotten some pretty bad reviews. I know what you mean, though.

  2. There’s never good news about the mainstream commercial meat biz, is there? Just once, couldn’t it be something like “This just in: Factory-farmed beef makes your breath smell sweeter!”

  3. I’m highly skeptical that the farmers are aware that the pesticide they use contains arsenic. More likely, they are worried about mites and lice found on poultry preventing weight gain. So the farmers use a food with some added pesticide properties (and is cheap). That the blood vessels look pinker never crossed the producers mind because most often they are not the “processor” of the product.

  4. “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.”

    This discrepancy is probably because exposure to drinking water is much more common, and in much higher volume, than exposure to chicken meat.

    The FDA’s figure is more relevant here, although the most relevant would be some estimate at the arsenic content per unit chicken meat, compared to the estimated weekly tolerable intake of 0.015 mg/kg b.w..

  5. I call BS. There’s no reference I can find that says that is in the food to make the meat pinker, but I can find several references that it is used as a preventative for coccidiosis, which will kill chicks quickly in crowded conditions. Most medicated feeds for small flocks now use instead.

  6. Arsenic facilitates(sp?) breathing when taken in small doses over time. Perhaps this leads to larger musculature? I don’t know, I’m not a biologist…

  7. I suppose I would have welcomed this information if it arrived BEFORE I bought my turkey. It does look pretty pink.

  8. First, I served him the arsenic-laced turkey.

    When the police came, I served them the arsenic-laced turkey as well.

    It was the Perfect Crime, because the police ate the evidence!

  9. Wow. SO many reasons not to eat industrial meat.

    I just can’t feature why so, so many people shovel it so thoughtlessly into their mouths. There must be some switch inside them that cuts off the circuit between what they know and what they do.

    1. I’d say shitty economy. When people are either unemployed or working 60 hours a week, they’ll not be terribly inclined to think about this kind of stuff.

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