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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Food Animal Metabolism Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #181342


item Huwe, Janice
item Larsen, Gerald

Submitted to: Safepork
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/17/2005
Publication Date: 9/6/2005
Citation: Huwe, J.K., Larsen, G.L. 2005. Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds in domestic meats. Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on the Epidemiology & Control of Foodborne Pathogens in Pork (SafePork 2005), Sept. 6-9, 2005, Rohnert Park, CA, pp. 129-132.

Interpretive Summary: Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are persistent pollutants found in the environment. While PCDD/Fs and PCBs are known to be toxic, PBDEs are not acutely toxic but may have chronic health effect. The major route of human exposure to PCDD/Fs and PCBs is through the food supply (mainly through meat, fish, and dairy). Routes of exposure to PBDEs are less well defined but may also include these foods. To investigate the current levels of these pollutants in foods, we have measured levels of PCDD/Fs, PCBs, and PBDEs in 65 meat and poultry samples purchased at several supermarkets across the US. The samples included sirloin steak, hamburger, bacon, pork chops, and whole chickens. The levels of PCDD/Fs and PCBs were similar to levels found in another recent survey of domestic meat and poultry and appear to be declining. For PBDEs, this is some of the first data collected on levels in foods. The PBDE levels in beef and bacon were similar to levels reported for these products in Europe; however, the levels in pork and chicken were higher in US products than in European products. The data suggests that isolated contamination sources may exist and, if identified, could be removed from the food production chain thus lowering levels in foods and, eventually, humans.

Technical Abstract: Persistent environmental pollutants including polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were analyzed in 65 meat samples collected from supermarkets across the U.S. in 2001. The samples included hamburger, sirloin steaks, pork chops, bacon, and whole chickens from nine different cities. The average dioxin toxic equivalency (TEQ) for all the samples was 0.55 pg/g lipid, with pork having the lowest levels. The TEQ levels were similar to recent values reported in the U.S. and appear to be declining. The sums of PBDEs averaged 1.71 ng/g lipid and represent the first extensive sampling of domestic meats. The average PBDE levels in pork and chicken were 4 and 20 times higher, respectively, than levels reported in Europe for these foods. The presence of a few outliers raised the average PBDE sums and indicated that isolated sources of contamination may exist that, if identified, could be removed from the U.S. animal production chain.