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

News and Information

September 17, 1997

TO: Owners and Custodians of Poultry, Livestock and Eggs:


This letter will serve as an official advisory that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has completed its investigation into the exposure of a limited amount of poultry, livestock and eggs to high levels of dioxin in animal feed. As of receipt of this notice, FSIS has established that all poultry, livestock and eggs are cleared for commercial distribution and that the problem has been resolved.


In a nationwide survey carried out by FSIS and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some unusually high levels of dioxin were found in 2 of 80 poultry samples. After an extensive investigation involving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FSIS, and EPA, the source of the dioxin contamination was identified as ball clay, which was added to the soybean meal as a flowing or anti-caking agent. Ball clay contaminated with high levels of dioxin was added to soybean meal processed by Riceland Foods, Incorporated and Quincy Soybean Company, both located in Arkansas. The soybean meal was then added to animal feeds.

On July 8, 1997, FSIS advised meat, poultry and egg product producers that products containing 2,3,7,8 TCDD at levels of 1.0 ppt or greater were adulterated and that establishments should immediately take steps to assure that animals or eggs being processed at their facilities did not contain elevated levels of dioxin as a result of animal exposure to contaminated feed.

FSIS has determined that the concerns about contaminated foods entering commerce from animals exposed to this feed have been resolved. This decision is based upon (1) testing data provided by producers of meat, poultry and egg products, (2) application of the FSIS model using actual exposure data when available, (3) testing by FSIS to fill data gaps, including testing of both "average" and "worst case" animals known to have been exposed to contaminated feed, and (4) discussions with other government scientists and experts.

FSIS may obtain additional samples of meat, poultry and egg products and test them for dioxin. Thank you for your excellent cooperation in this matter.


signed by Carol M. Seymour


Mark Mina, DVM
Deputy Administrator
Field Operations

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