Chickens and Yogurt Drinks: Beware and Hurray

I love chicken.  My favorite meal is a plate of dark meat chicken thighs, mayonnaise (an odd but old family tradition), rice and peas.  But a story in The New York Times this morning got me thinking I may need to switch to pralines and cream (my other favorite) instead.

According to Sabrina Tavernise, researchers have found that chicken contains levels of arsenic that, while not toxic in the small amounts they appear in, over time could lead to cancer.  Last year high levels of arsenic were also found in rice.

Bummer.  Big time.  Roxarsone, and a chemically similar drug, nitarsone, remain the last federally approved uses of arsenic in food production, Keeve Nachman, a scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the chicken study’s main author, told Tavernise.

"Roxarsone, known by its brand name 3-Nitro, kills intestinal parasites, promotes growth and makes meat look pinker,' Tavernise reports. "It contains organic arsenic, which is far less toxic than its inorganic counterpart. For decades, it was believed that animals simply excreted organic arsenic. But evidence is emerging that it may also be converted into its carcinogenic cousin in the body of the chicken."

The study estimated that the exposure could cause an additional 124 deaths in the country annually from lung and bladder cancer, if the drug were fed to all chickens.         

On a more positive note, Dannon has cut the sugar in its children's yogurt drink, Smoothies, by 25%. Toddlers love the stuff, and so do 12-year-olds. It remains the only form of calcium I can get into my son. But reducing the sugar isn't as easy as it sounds.

Stephanie Strom notes that slashing it by such a large amount can affect the "taste. . . texture, acidity and other aspects." You still want it to taste good. Judging by my household, they've done a great job.  No one noticed the missing sugar, least of all my picky, sweets-addicted child.  


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