Agri. & Environ.
Dioxin analysis results/exposure estimates -- Updated June 2006
By CFSAN/Office of Plant & Dairy Foods
Jul 3, 2006, 17:20

CFSAN/Office of Plant & Dairy Foods
United States Department of Agriculture

The complete document is available at:

Dioxin and chemically-related compounds (referred to collectively as dioxin-like compounds or DLCs) are a group of environmental contaminants found throughout the world. Studies have suggested that exposure to DLCs may lead to a variety of adverse health effects including reproductive and developmental problems, cardiovascular disease, increased diabetes, and increased cancer. Because DLCs tend to accumulate in the fat of food-producing animals, consumption of animal-derived foods (e.g., meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy products) is considered to be the major route of human exposure to low levels of DLCs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been concerned about DLCs and has been monitoring food and animal feed with the goal of identifying ways to reduce dietary exposure to these ubiquitous environmental contaminants. In 2000, FDA developed a strategy for DLCs. The purpose of FDA's dioxin strategy, which significantly expanded FDA's Dioxin Monitoring Program, is to develop the science to support appropriate risk management actions. Specific goals for FDA's Dioxin Monitoring Program are to obtain baseline data for DLC levels in food and animal feed ingredients susceptible to DLC contamination and to determine opportunities for DLC reduction by identifying contamination sources that can be eliminated or significantly reduced.

To obtain more general information on dioxin, see Questions and Answers about Dioxin. The Interagency Working Group on Dioxin (IWG) prepared the questions and answers. The Dioxin IWG is composed of U.S. federal agencies that address health, food, and the environment and are working together to ensure a coordinated federal approach to issues related to DLCs.

Dioxin Analysis of Total Diet Study Samples

As part of FDA's Dioxin Monitoring Program effort to obtain baseline data for DLCs, FDA analyzes food and feed for DLCs from both targeted sampling and food collected under its Total Diet Study (TDS). The TDS is FDA's ongoing market basket survey of approximately 280 core foods in the U.S. food supply to determine levels of various pesticides residues, contaminants, and nutrients in foods and to estimate exposures of these substances in representative diets of specific age-sex groups in the U.S. Four market baskets are generally collected each year, once in each of four geographic regions of the U.S. (i.e., West, North Central, South, and Northeast). For each market basket, food samples are collected from grocery stores and fast food restaurants in three cities within the region, prepared table-ready (i.e., as they would be consumed), and composited for analysis (See General notes about preparation of TDS foods prior to analysis). Therefore, each data point reported for a TDS food represents a composite of tree samples of a table-ready (i.e., cooked, if required by TDS recipes) food type. For more information see the Total Diet Study Overview.

FDA's Dioxin Monitoring Program analyzed selected TDS samples from one market basket each year in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 to determine levels of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin (PCDD) and polychlorinated dibenzofuran (PCDF) congeners. Collection year and site for each market basket analyzed are listed in Table 1.

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