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FDA Announces Sampling and Trigger Levels for Minerals

FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) announced the agency would be taking 1,700 samples of feed and feed ingredients for dioxin testing over the next year.

November 26, 2003

FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) announced the agency would be taking 1,700 samples of feed and feed ingredients for dioxin testing over the next year. The impending action was revealed during the U.S. Animal Health Association Feed Safety Committee in San Diego, Calif., last month, AFIA says. Reportedly, the agency is establishing a 5 parts per trillion (pptr) level for minerals above which the agency would pursue further sampling to find the source of dioxin and may initiate recall of feed products. This was precipitated by mineral incidents in the last two years involving dioxin where FDA took a number of samples of minerals and indicated that there was a breakpoint of 5 pptr below which nearly all of the sample results fell.

In a separate meeting with CVM officials, AFIA’s Richard Sellers noted that the agency appears to be setting a de facto tolerance or at least an action/guidance level. He urged the agency to provide some type of formal notice to the industry regarding this level, how it arrived at the level and what the agency expects from suppliers.

Sellers asked and received support from the agency for a national dioxin summit for the feed industry to define the concerns, look at the science and collectively determine what route was best for protecting human and animal health in a cost effective manner. AFIA has begun planning for this summit for early next year, likely to be held in the Washington, D.C. area.

Dioxin is a class of potentially toxic chemical compounds that can be man-made as well as naturally-occurring. Because of the persistence in the environment, some government scientists want the levels to be reduced in the human food supply to non-detectable levels. Detection of these low levels requires very sophisticated equipment which can be quite pricey.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to finalize its seven-year dioxin reassessment and appears to be nearing the end of negotiations with the National Academies to review the assessment as mandated by Congress. This is in addition to the preliminary report from the Academies’ Institute of Medicine that provided options for reducing dioxin in the food supply, which included the option of elimination of animal fat as a feed ingredient due to its perceived "recycling" of dioxins to human food.

AFIA held a dioxin webcast in October, and copies of the slides presented can be obtained from AFIA’s Sellers. These provide a primer of dioxin in the industry. [Source: AFIA]

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