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dioxin (fwd)

updated fri 13 mar 98


Monona Rossol on thu 12 mar 98


Just for background, the following article appeared August, 1998
in our newsletter, ACTS FACTS. Its sources were the Wall Street
Journal's story by Bruce Ingersoll, Staff Rep., July 15, 1997,
and FDA releases.

Monona Rossol


After elevated levels of dioxin were detected in chicken and
eggs, the FDA banned all shipments from scores of poultry
processors and egg producers starting July 14 unless they can
certify that their products aren't tainted with dioxin. The FDA
says there is no immediate health risk, but they wish to avoid
additional accumulation of dioxin in the body. Dioxins also are
potent carcinogens.

The problem began earlier this year when EPA found elevated
dioxin levels in chicken from Tyson Foods plants in Arkansas and
Texas. One sample contained 22 parts per trillion of dioxin and
the other 26 parts per trillion. The norm for edible meat is 0.6
parts per trillion. The FDA has detected dioxin levels ranging
from 0.87 to 2.19 parts per trillion in two egg samples from
Texas and Arkansas.

Similar levels have also been found in farm-raised catfish.
Because people eat far less catfish than chicken and eggs, the
FDA decided to give the catfish industry a reprieve from the
food-safety ban until a backlog in laboratory testing can be
caught up.

THE CLAY CULPRIT. The dioxin contamination was traced to two
Arkansas animal-feed manufacturers that use small amounts of clay
as an anti-caking agent in soybean meal used by chicken farms
nationwide and by several major catfish farms in Mississippi.
The tainted clay came from an open-pit mine near Sledge,

A spokesman for the Kentucky-Tennessee Clay Company in Nashville
said the company doesn't know how their mine became contaminated.
The mine went into production in 1991 and produces ball clay.
The term "ball clay" comes from the practice of digging the clay
out of open pits in convenient blocks of about 25 pounds called

Ball clays are major ingredients in whiteware, porcelains, stone-
ware, terra cotta, glass refractories, and floor and wall tile.
They also are used in ceramic clays, casting slips, and glazes.
Craftspeople should ask suppliers where their ball clays are
mined and be doubly careful to avoid exposure to dust and kiln