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Arsenic in Chicken Feed: Maryland Will Be First State to Ban the Harmful Additives

EMSL Analytical is one of the few testing laboratories that can distinguish arsenic’s benign organic form from its dangerous inorganic form


Maryland is set to become the first state to prohibit the use of arsenic-containing additives in chicken feed, which are already banned in Canada and the European Union.
According to the Washington Post, “Last year, the Food and Drug Administration tested 100 chickens by giving them feed that contained the additive roxarsone, an arsenic-based drug used to fight parasites in animals. Half the chickens later showed trace amounts of inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, in their livers.”
According to estimates, the chickens produced roughly a billion pounds of waste that was then used as fertilizer. Unknown levels of arsenic may have seeped into ground as a result.
Arsenic has two forms: organic and inorganic. The organic form is not associated with harmful health effects, while the inorganic form is.
In pregnant women, inorganic arsenic consumption has been linked to premature births and low-birth weights. Ingesting small amounts of inorganic arsenic can also cause nausea, vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels, and a “pins and needles” sensation on the hands and feet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, studies indicate that it may increase the risk of cancer in the liver, bladder, lungs, and skin. Consuming large amounts of arsenic can be fatal.
“Testing food and drinks for arsenic levels can be complicated by the fact that arsenic has different forms, and some of those forms are more dangerous than others,” states Shannon Kauffman, Food Chemistry Lab Manager at EMSL Analytical. “Our testing laboratory is one of the select few in the country that can detect whether a sample contains the benign organic form of arsenic or the inorganic form that causes a multitude of health problems.”
For more information on EMSL’s food testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, email, or visit or
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies. 


 testing laboratory
 chicken feed
 Maryland ban
 metals speciation

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