In a long-awaited response to a 2009 petition by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) on behalf of a coalition of US food and environment groups, the FDA confirmed it was in the process of formally withdrawing approval for roxarsone, carbarsone, and arsanilic acid following a request from the companies that made the drugs.
However, it turned down the petition to ban a fourth arsenic, nitarsone, stating that it was in the process of completing scientific studies in order to more fully evaluate any food safety concerns.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), which was a member of the coalition that sent the 2009 petition, said that the FDA response was a “major victory” for consumers.
“The actions by FDA and industry confirm what we’ve been saying for seven years – that the use of arsenic in animal feed is not necessary and poses needless risk to public health,” said Ben Lilliston, vice-president for program at IATP.
“The FDA’s response is long overdue to reduce exposure to arsenic and should launch a more comprehensive evaluation of health risks associated with animal feed produced by the pharmaceutical industry.”
However, the National Chicken Council pointed out that arsenic has not been used in US broiler chicken production since 2011, when the manufacturers of the drugs – Zoetis and Fleming Labs – withdrew them voluntarily from the market.
“The only arsenical used as a feed additive in broiler production in the last 10 years, roxarsone, was suspended in 2011 and the product is no longer manufactured or used. No other feed additives containing arsenic are currently used in broiler meat production in the US,” said NCC vice-president of scientific and regulatory affairs Ashley Peterson.