The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was hit this week with a lawsuit filed in California federal court, in order to force the agency to respond to a three-year old petition to ban arsenic-based drugs from animal feed.
The suit, filed by the Center for Food Safety, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the Center for Biological Diversity and six other US food safety, agriculture, public health and environmental groups, seeks a response to the groups’ 2009 petition calling for immediate withdrawal of FDA’s approval of arsenic-containing compounds as feed additives for food animals.
Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy colour in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. It was first approved as animal feed additives in the 1940s, arsenic-containing compounds remain legal for use in US chicken, turkey and swine production.
The suit names Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the US Department of Health and Human Services as well as FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as defendants
Attorneys at the Center for Food Safety are representing a range of environmental, animal welfare and public health groups in the lawsuit including the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Food and Water Watch, Health Care Without Harm, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility.