August 4, 2006
US researchers discover lower dioxin levels in poultry and hogs
Although dioxin levels in US poultry and hogs have fallen steadily over the past decade, levels of the toxin in cattle have remained quite flat, according to a survey conducted by the USDA.
Ken Hammond, a USDA spokesman, said USDA researchers standardised a series of small data surveys conducted from 1994 to 1996, for comparison with a comprehensive survey conducted from 2002 to 2003.
In poultry and pigs, dioxin levels declined 20 to 80 percent during the period between the surveys, due largely to efforts to eliminate dioxin in feeds.
This was further confirmed when the USDA researchers traced two pigs with high dioxin levels back to farms that were only approximately 100 miles apart that used the same dioxin-contaminated mineral feed supplement.
Researchers are still puzzled why dioxin levels have not fallen in cattle. Researchers said reasons could range from background deposition from power-plant emissions or even the age of the cattle at slaughter. Older cattle tend to accumulate more dioxin.
Dioxin is a carcinogen which accumulate in body fat of living organisms. Researchers have linked it to birth defects, damage to the immune system, diabetes, and other human health problems.