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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Hoffman, Michael
item Huwe, Janice
item Deyrup, Cynthia
item Lorentzsen, Margaret
item Zaylskie, Richard
item Clinch, Nelson
item Saunders, Patricia
item Sutton, W

Submitted to: Environmental Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/7/2006
Publication Date: 7/26/2006
Citation: Hoffman, M.K., Huwe, J.K., Deyrup, C.L., Lorentzsen, M.K., Zaylskie, R.G., Clinch, N.R., Saunders, P., Sutton, W.R. 2006. Statistically-Designed Survey of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-Dioxins, Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans and Co-Planar Polychlorinated Biphenyls in U.S. Meat and Poultry, 2002-2003: Results, Trends, and Implications. Environmental Science and Technology. 40:5340-5346

Interpretive Summary: Polychlorinated dibenzo p dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans are ubiquitous environmental pollutants which are considered to be potential chronic human toxins. Humans are exposed to these compounds (dioxins) predominately through their diet. Periodic surveys of the food supply are useful to measure changes in dioxin levels that may occur over time. The USDA Agricultural Research Service and Food Safety and Inspection Service have now conducted a survey and obtained information about the current 2003 levels of dioxins in domestically produced meat and poultry. Over 500 samples of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey were collected from federally inspected slaughter houses across the country and analyzed for dioxins. The results indicated that pork, chicken, and turkey may have 50% less dioxin contamination than ten years ago when a similar survey was conducted. The dioxin levels in beef may not have changed as dramatically, a result that will direct future research into this area.

Technical Abstract: To obtain information on dioxin levels in the human diet, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture recently determined levels of dioxin-like compounds (dioxins/dibenzofurans/PCBs) in four major slaughter classes (steers and heifers, market hogs, young chickens and young turkeys) that comprise over 90% of the meat and poultry production in the United States. The data were analyzed and compared to data from smaller surveys carried out from 1994-1996. These surveys were conducted by different laboratories nearly ten years apart, so a direct comparison of the data was not straight forward. Three approaches were taken: 1) comparison with non-detects set to zero, 2) comparison with non-detects set to half the limit of detection, and 3) comparison applying the earlier surveys’ limits of detection to the newer data. The data analyses indicated that dioxin levels appear to have declined in three of the four slaughter classes, with young chickens, market hogs, and young turkeys declining 20-80%, while any declines in cattle dioxin levels, if real, are less than that observed in the other slaughter classes. Further study is needed to examine factors that might explain the differences in dioxin levels and distribution profiles in the four slaughter classes. A small number of market hog and steers/heifers samples had dioxin toxic equivalency levels (TEQs) greater than 2 pg/g lipid weight Follow-up investigations for those samples indicated a common source for the market hog samples (a dioxin-contaminated mineral supplement), but no commonality was found for the steers/heifers samples.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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