October 19, 2018

Food & Water Watch Sues FDA Over Ignored FOIA Request

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has unlawfully ignored a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records about drugs added to poultry feed, a lawsuit filed today by consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch alleges. The group, along with Center for a Livable Future (CLF), submitted the FOIA request about arsenic-based drugs added to poultry feed last year.

GavelsThe groups say this type of poultry feed could pose a public health risk.  Last week, CLF announced results of a new study that found that if chickens are raised with arsenic-based drugs, it raises the level of inorganic arsenic, which causes cancer, in their meat. In June 2011, Pfizer announced it was voluntarily suspending sales of the animal drug 3-Nitro (Roxarsone) after FDA scientists found that feeding the drug to chickens increased the concentration of inorganic arsenic in chicken livers.

“FDA detected increased levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro, raising concerns of a very low but completely avoidable exposure to a carcinogen,” Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods, said in a statement at that time. “We are pleased to announce that the company is cooperating with us to protect the public health.”

“We want to know what the FDA and Pfizer were telling each other privately to see if it matches what the agency told consumers,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It is hard to imagine how the FDA persuaded Pfizer to suspend sale of such a lucrative product if the agency did not believe there could be a significant risk.”

The groups are requesting correspondence between the FDA and Pfizer about 3-Nitro (Roxarsone). Beyond acknowledging that it has received the FOIA request, the FDA has not responded to it.

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