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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Sep 1;40(17):5340-6.

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.

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Office of Public Health Science, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20056, USA.


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 to 1996. These surveys were conducted by different laboratories nearly 10 years apart, so a direct comparison of the data was not straightforward. Three approaches were taken: (1) comparison with nondetects set to zero, (2) comparison with nondetects 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 those 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.

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