Facebook brought this Minds.com article to my attention:

After years of sweeping the issue under the rug and hoping no one would notice, the FDA has now finally admitted that chicken meat sold in the USA contains arsenic, a cancer-causing toxic chemical that’s fatal in high doses.

Such a result wouldn't necessarily shock me, but none of the references are to primary sources, and the article doesn't distinguish between organic and inorganic arsenic, so I am skeptical that they have the details right.

Did the FDA (or any other scientifically reputable source, if you don't trust them) declare that chicken meat contains (pharmacologically significant amounts of) cancer-causing arsenic?

  • 1
    Related (duplicate?): skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/17567/…. Answer concludes that yes, there is inorganic arsenic in chicken meat – enough to cause an additional 3.7 lifetime bladder and lung cancer cases per 100,000 people.
    – user5582
    Dec 10, 2013 at 2:10
  • 1
    Several claims here: 1) chicken contain arsenic, 2) arsenic is carcinogenic, 3) chicken contains arsenic in such high doses that its carcinogenic effects are measurable in those consuming chicken in normal quantities (rather than being force fed raw arsenic until they develop cancer, which is the normal way things are determined to be carcinogenic, force feeding it to rats and mice in silly high doses, then taking a minute fraction of that dose as the "safe dose for humans").
    – jwenting
    Dec 10, 2013 at 6:15
  • @jwenting: Hmmm... I want to ask (3), if you agree the notable source implies it. If (1) is true but not (3) it is just a beat-up. I am confident that some forms of arsenic are highly toxic in some way; whether it is cancer or not doesn't interest me.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 10, 2013 at 8:47
  • well, the claim is specifically about cancer. As to other causes, as always the dose makes the poison. As arsenic exists freely in nature, there's little doubt chicken would contain it even without them being exposed to it through medication (which the claim mentioned by @Articuno states). But then, such is also the case with human beings.
    – jwenting
    Dec 10, 2013 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


A older study [1] suggests that this is true in younger chicken. A relevant excerpt:

During the years 1994–2000 mean arsenic concentrations in young chickens ranged from 0.33 to 0.43ppm, and the mean for the entire period was 0.39 ppm (Figure1). During the same period, the mean values for mature chickens, turkeys, hogs, and all other species was between 0.10 and 0.16 ppm (Figure1). The mean concentrations of arsenic in young chickens declined from 0.43 ppm (95% CI, 0.4–0.47) to 0.33 (95% CI, 0.30–0.36) between 1994 and 1999, with a slight upturn to 0.39 (95% CI, 0.37–0.41) in 2000.

I found several other references at scholar.google.com using the keywords "poultry arsenic", however, on a first glance this looks like the most complete study I could find.

  1. Mean total arsenic concentrations in chicken 1989-2000 and estimated exposures for consumers of chicken. Tamar Lasky, Wenyu Sun, Abdel Kadry, Michael K Hoffman. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 January; 112(1): 18–21. PMCID: PMC1241791. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241791/

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