Levels of dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) appear to have declined in chickens, hogs and turkeys produced for food in the United States, according to new tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Levels measured in 2002-2003 were 20 percent to 80 percent lower than levels measured in less extensive testing done from 1994-1996, according to study results, which are scheduled for publication in the Aug. 15 issue of the ACS Environmental Science and Technology. However, researchers could not determine with certainty whether DLC levels in cattle changed over that period.
In the article, Cynthia L. Deyrup and colleagues report results of a survey of DLC levels in the four slaughter classes that represent about 90 percent of meat and poultry production in the United States. None of the chickens or turkeys and only 5 of 139 cattle and 3 of 136 hogs exceeded existing regulatory limits on dioxins, which have been adopted in the European Union. The report also discusses the possible sources of DLCs in animals with higher levels of DLCs.
DLCs are a family of compounds that enter the environment as byproducts of combustion and certain manufacturing processes. DLCs accumulate in the fat of humans and animals. One DLC has been classified as a "known human carcinogen." However, controversy continues over the strength of the scientific evidence about human health effects from DLCs, the report notes.
Reference: "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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