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Title: A Survey of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins, Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans and Co-planar Polychlorinated Biphenyls in U.S. Meat and Poultry, 2007-2008

item Huwe, Janice
item Pagan-rodriguez, Doritza
item Abdelmajid, Naser
item Clinch, Nelson
item Gordon, Donald
item Holterman, James
item Zaki, Ezzat
item Lorentzsen, Margaret
item Dearfield, Kerry

Submitted to: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/15/2009
Publication Date: 11/10/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Huwe, J.K., Pagan-Rodriguez, D., Abdelmajid, N., Clinch, N., Gordon, D., Holterman, J., Zaki, E., Lorentzsen, M.K., Dearfield, K. 2009. Survey of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins, Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans and Co-planar Polychlorinated Biphenyls in U.S. Meat and Poultry, 2007-2008: Effect of New Toxic Equivalency Factors on Toxic Equivalency Levels, Patterns, and Temporal Trends. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 57:11194-11200. DOI:10.1021/jf902251t.

Interpretive Summary: Polychlorinated dibenzo p dioxins, dibenzofurans, and biphenyls are ubiquitous environmental pollutants which are considered to be potential chronic human toxins. Humans are exposed to these compounds (dioxins) predominately through foods such as meat and dairy. 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 2008 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. Results from the 2008 survey were compared to surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the mid-1990s and 2002-2003 and showed that dioxin levels appear to have declined in meat and poultry over the past decade, but that the source of food animals' exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds during this time period may have remained the same.

Technical Abstract: A statistically-based survey of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds in domestic meat and poultry was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from September 2007 to September 2008. Seventeen toxic polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and three coplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were measured in 510 beef (steer/heifer), market hog, young turkey, and young chicken samples. The results of the survey showed total toxic equivalencies (TEQs) ranging from not detected to 4.5 ppt on a lipid weight (lw) basis. Mean total TEQ levels for beef, turkey, chicken, and pork were 0.66, 0.61, 0.17, and 0.16 ppt lw, respectively. To compare the new survey data with data from previous USDA surveys in the mid-1990s and 2002-2003, TEQs from all datasets were calculated using the most recent 2005 toxic equivalency factors (TEFs). The results of the recalculation on the older survey data was a small increase (4–13%) in mean TEQs for the mid-1990s data which initially used pre-1994 TEFs and a small decrease (2–4%) for the 2002-2003 data which initially used 1998 TEFs. A comparison of the three surveys indicates declining TEQ trends in all slaughter classes over the 10 year period; however, the congener patterns remain relatively constant between 2002 and 2008 indicating similar animal exposures to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds during these time periods. Several samples from the 2008 survey with the highest TEQ values are undergoing follow-up investigations to determine possible sources that may be contributing to these levels.