Chicken has been touted as an alternative to red meat because it has less saturated fat. But a new study shows that some chicken may be less healthful than once believed. “Arsenic” (a known carcinogen) was found in 55% of 155 samples of raw chicken purchased in Minnesota and California supermarkets according to research commissioned by the nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). All of the 90 samples purchased from fast-food restaurants contained ARSENIC! Many poultry producers feed animals an organic form of arsenic, which is believed to be harmless to animals, to control intestinal parasites. But there is evidence suggesting that some of this arsenic is converted in the birds into a toxic, inorganic form of arsenic. Questions remain about what happens to it in the human body. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests chicken livers for arsenic (residues are almost always found to be under the legal standard), but the IATP report is the first extensive data on other chicken meat. “You don’t want to have any more arsenic in your body than what you absolutely can’t avoid,” says toxicologist Paul Mushak, PhD, of Durham, North Carolina, an expert on arsenic and other toxic elements. To reduce exposure: Call the customer-service department of the producer whose poultry you typically buy and ask if the birds are given arsenic. Another option: Buy organic chicken–these birds cannot legally be given arsenic. Use of arsenic is not prohibited in chicken labeled only as kosher or “free range”.