In February 1999, panic broke out in Europe with the finding that Belgian producers of livestock feed had inadvertently contaminated 1,500 tons (1.5 million kilograms) of their products with rendered fat containing 50 kg of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 1 gram of dioxin.
Analyses later confirmed that traces of these organochlorines wound up in the meat of animals that had eaten the feed and become ill. A new study finds that the contamination of feed wasn't an isolated episode.
This troubling realization came to light when toxicologist Adrian Covaci of the University of Antwerp in Belgium and his colleagues began to evaluate background concentrations of organochlorines in Belgian livestock that had not eaten the highly publicized, tainted feed. They tested 1,850 pieces of chicken and pork, the feed that the animals had been given, and the fishmeal, fat, and grain that goes into making such feed.
In the February Environmental Health Perspectives, th