Implications of Dioxin in the Food Supply
Dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), and other dioxin-like chemicals occur as widespread, low-level contaminants in the feed and food supply. Because dioxin accumulates in fatty tissues, consumption of animal fats is thought to be the primary pathway for human exposure. Dioxin toxicity and the human health impact have been the subject of recent re-evaluations by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the U.S. Agency for Toxicity Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been released for review or are in final form. In addition, data recently released indicates declining levels of dioxin in the environment and in human tissues. At the same time, public concern about food safety issues such as endocrine disrupters in the food supply and the effects of dioxin-like compounds on children's health and development is increasing.
An Institute of Medicine committee conducted a study to review the scientific evidence of the impact of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds on the safety of the U.S. food supply. Specifically, they addressed evidence for the presence of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds in foods, pathways leading to feed and food contamination, evidence for human exposure and trends in body burdens, the existence of susceptible populations, anticipated trends in future exposures, and options to reduce exposure via the food supply given a range of estimated levels. The committee also considered current regulatory approaches to adequately protect the public, and addressing ways to further minimize exposure, taking into account the need to promote good nutrition and health.
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