People in the United States have steadily increased their consumption of chicken from 32 pounds a year per person in 1966 to 81 pounds per person in 2000.
A new study shows young chickens have significant higher levels of arsenic than other poultry or meat. Arsenic is an approved animal feed supplement that farmers use to control intestinal parasites in chickens.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service sampled the liver tissue of 5,000 chickens to estimate the arsenic concentrations of the muscle tissue, which is the part of the chicken that is most consumed. They found arsenic concentrations in young chickens to be three- to four-fold higher than in other poultry or meat sampled.
Of the 5,000 chicken samples, 3,611 were young chickens and 1,582 were mature chickens. By 1997, 99 percent of chicken was consumed as a young chicken.
Researchers calculated that a person consuming approximately two ounces of chicken daily might ingest 3.6 micrograms to 5.2 micrograms of inorganic arsenic. People who eat more chicken than this are ingesting up to 10-times higher levels of arsenic. Chronic exposure of inorganic arsenic, or 10 micrograms to 40 micrograms per day, is associated with skin, respiratory and bladder cancers.