Monday, December 12, 2011

DFA, Others Urge White House to Intervene on Dioxin Reassessment
IDFA and other members of the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group, a coalition of agriculture, processing and retail food organizations, today asked the White House to take a role in the Environmental Protection Agency's ongoing efforts to finalize a draft dioxin risk reassessment. In a letter to Melody Barnes, assistant to the president for domestic policy, the coalition expressed its concern that EPA's proposed recommendations would confuse consumers and seriously harm U.S. trade.

The term dioxin refers to a group of chemicals that are byproducts of natural and industrial processes involving combustion, such as forest fires and backyard burning. They are introduced to animals through the air, soil and plants.

Although EPA estimates that 95 percent of dioxin intake comes through food, studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that exposure to dioxin from the environment and the food supply is very low and continues to decline.

"We are concerned with EPA's plan to break from longstanding international science-based dioxin standards and split the reassessment into non-cancer and cancer risk assessments, while setting a reference dose (RfD) for non-cancer risk," the letter said. "Since the primary route of human exposure to dioxin is through food, this would not only mislead and frighten consumers about the safety of their diets, but could have significant negative economic impact on all U.S. food producers."

The coalition urged Barnes to ensure that opinions from all affected federal agencies are considered equally in the administration's approach to dioxin risk. The heads of these agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Trade Representative, also received copies of the letter.

EPA has been working to complete a comprehensive review of dioxin for more than 20 years and recently announced plans to release its final conclusions in January. IDFA sent letters last month to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to express concerns about EPA's approach.


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