Federal Efforts To Protect Consumers From Polybrominated Biphenyl Contaminated Food Products

HRD-77-96: Published: Jun 8, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1977.

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In 1973, an industrial chemical containing polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) was mistaken for magnesium oxide, a feed supplement, and mixed with animal feed in Michigan. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are responsible for protecting consumers from such contaminated foods.

Manufacturers of drugs and animal feeds and animal feed components are subject to FDA inspections. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for administering the Federal Meat and Poultry Inspection Program. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is responsible for basic, applied, and developmental research in agricultural and related fields. APHIS and ARS were the two principal USDA agencies which were involved in the PBB incident in Michigan. Intrastate products that contained PBB in excess of applicable tolerance levels were recalled and voluntarily destroyed by the manufacturer or were seized by the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA). Survey results showed no evidence that the nine states sampled had received any contaminated feed, and it was concluded that widespread contamination of livestock outside of Michigan had not occurred. USDA plans to continue its current practice of immediately notifying MDA when it finds meat that contains PBB residues above the tolerance level. At present, APHIS has no written guidelines or procedures for dealing with future problems such as the PBB contamination incident in Michigan.

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