Trace amounts of arsenic in chicken: Should you be concerned?

The chicken you plan to eat for dinner tonight may have something added that you don't want. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an ingredient in chicken feed called Roxarsone contains arsenic, a poison, and may end up in the chicken itself. The agency stresses, however, the amount is too tiny to be dangerous to your health.

Before now, it was believed the arsenic passed through the chicken in its waste. But the FDA says Roxarsone is a carcinogen and it's now being pulled off the market in the U.S. Pfizer Inc., which makes the feed ingredient, agreed to the recall voluntarily.

Roxarsone has been used in chickens, turkeys and swine since the 1940s to kill parasites and promote growth. Over the years though, many poultry producers have stopped feeding their birds the ingredient.

For years, Roxarsone been a concern among environmental and consumer groups amid fears about its presence in chicken waste and the resulting effect on human health in areas with a high chicken production.

"Arsenic in chicken production poses a risk not only to human health, but to the environment," said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. "We need to get arsenic out of food production altogether."

Consumers Union and other groups are praising the FDA for its efforts, but also want the agency to go further and encourage bans of other animal drugs that contain arsenic.

The National Chicken Council says chicken is safe to eat. The FDA agrees, saying this doesn't mean you have to stop eating chicken. Just some food for thought when you sit down to dinner tonight.

Does this make you concerned about eating chicken? Since it's only a trace amount and not believed to be harmful, would you rather not know? Leave your thoughts below.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.