USDA Symbol Food Safety and Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700

News and Information

July 9, 1997

To: District Managers
From: Mark T. Mina
Deputy Administrator
Field Operations
Subject: Dioxin Guidance

The attached July 8 letter provides information and guidance to plant owners and operators about poultry, livestock, or eggs that may be contaminated with residues of dioxin at levels that would render the resulting food products adulterated.

The letter describes the reasons for the official advisory to plant owners, background on the identified problem, and procedures plant managers are to follow if they receive livestock or poultry for slaughter, or eggs for processing that have been exposed to feed contaminated with dioxin. The advisory is being mailed to all slaughter and egg processing establishments, FSIS District Inspection Operations and District Enforcement Operations Managers, Circuit Supervisors, Multi-IPPS Supervisors, and Inspectors-In-Charge.

Plant managers or owners have the responsibility of notifying inspection officials (Inspector-In-Charge) of livestock or poultry, or eggs from laying hens that have been exposed to feed contaminated with dioxin. This determination will be based upon the feed history of the livestock or poultry. The problem is associated with animal feeds used by companies identified on the attached list which will be forwarded and updated via HpDesk or fax. This list is as complete as we can make it, and will be updated periodically. The information may be shared with establishment representatives. However, in doing so please be sure to stress that packers need to independently verify the status of their incoming animals or eggs. No notification of FSIS officials is required if livestock or poultry have not received these feeds.

Effective July 13, 1997, plants that receive livestock or poultry for slaughter, or eggs for processing that have been exposed to feed contaminated with dioxin, must demonstrate that the resulting meat, poultry or egg products are below the level of concern of 1 part per trillion 2,3,7,8 TCDD on an edible tissue basis. This will most likely be done through laboratory analysis. Samples for laboratory analysis may be obtained either at the establishment or prior to slaughter from the producer or supplier of the livestock, poultry or eggs. If laboratory results are not available at the time of slaughter, plants may proceed with slaughter and processing; however, they must assure that resulting products are held under security at their establishment or another appropriate site until receipt of laboratory test results.

Due to the limited laboratory capacity, plants may present scientifically substantiated alternative evidence to Inspectors-In-Charge that demonstrates livestock or poultry for slaughter or eggs for processing that have been exposed to feed contaminated with dioxin is below the level of concern of 1 part per trillion 2,3,7,8 TCDD on an edible tissue basis. Technical Service Center personnel (402-221-7400) will be available to consult with plant owners about alternative evidence.

Products that are above the level of concern are not eligible for the marks of inspection. Plants can reprocess these products and apply the marks of inspection if the reprocessing operations assure products are below the level of concern. Reprocessing cannot be accomplished by blending or dilution.

District Enforcement Officials will be working with Food and Drug Administration Officials to assure that the requirements of the July 8 advisory are being met.

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