(While eating some turkey) I recently found out that poultry farmers routinely use a powerful, arsenic-based antibiotic called "Roxarsone" to treat their livestock.

Obviously, injecting arsenic into a bird will cause its meat to be contaminated with arsenic due to blood circulation.

Are arsenic levels in bird meat of a health concern for Americans?

  • (1) are you asking only about the USA with "concern for Americans"? and (2) it doesn't really sound like a medically related question when restricted by (any) geography. Are you asking e.g. if the level of As are regulated in bird meat in the USA? Or if the US regulations are enough to prevent possible direct or indirect effects on health? (From a quick look, As leaching into the environment from bird poo was also a concern.)
    – Fizz
    Oct 28, 2021 at 2:07
  • Additionally Roxarsone was also used in animal feed, not just injections, and for pigs too; China also banned it in 2019 cen.acs.org/food/agriculture/Chinas-arsenic-ban-animal-feed/97/…
    – Fizz
    Oct 28, 2021 at 2:13
  • Looking though the regs of olde (2010) it was also approved for use in pigs in the USA at 21 C.F.R. § 520.2087(e)(2) gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2010-title21-vol6/pdf/… I'm not sure those regs have even been rescinded. From the FDA story it seems they worked it out through manufacturers withdrawing their products (the last one in 2015). fda.gov/animal-veterinary/product-safety-information/…
    – Fizz
    Oct 28, 2021 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


Roxarsone has been banned by the FDA and in the EU, so if you live in either of them it's safe to assume that there was none of it in your turkey.

Additionally, not all arsenic compounds are equally toxic. Arsenate salts are the most toxic, whereas other ones like arsenobetaine (which is commonly found on fish) are completely inoccuous. In the case of roxarsone and related compounds the concern would be that its metabolism would break them down to release arsenates, but I couldn't find evidence that this actually happens through normal metabolism.

  • I don't think your information is accurate. As of November 2016 poultry farmers routinely and systematically feed their birds with Roxarsone and that includes both chickens and turkeys. In fact, you can buy roxarsone right here on this website (it is sold under the trade name "Super Nitro"): domvet.com/supernitro.html (notice the poison warnings) Nov 21, 2016 at 9:23
  • 1
    That link you posted takes you to a Canadian provider. Canada is not under the FDA jurisdiction, and I've found conflicting information about the use of roxarsone there. Some sites say it is discontinued (theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/…), while others list it as availabre for purchase (pharmacompass.com/health-canada-drug-product-database/roxarsone). I'm pretty sure importing banned substances from Canada into the US is illegal and can get you in trouble if caught feeding them to your poultry.
    – Variax
    Nov 21, 2016 at 10:21
  • This news story says Pfizer is suspending sales of Super Nitro in the United States in 2021: zoetisus.com/news-and-media/… This implies that this antibiotic was widely sold in the United States at least up to that time. Oct 28, 2021 at 2:52
  • @TylerDurden The Pfizer article pretty much answers your question.
    – Carey Gregory
    Oct 28, 2021 at 15:02

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