Americans may shy away from eating foods the federal government has recommended if EPA publishes final conclusions about dioxins consistent with draft conclusions, more than a dozen food industry trade groups told the White House and top administration officials in recent letters. In addition, U.S. food exports may face trade barriers if EPA’s published draft conclusions are finalized, Dale Morris, deputy executive director for public policy of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said.

At least 17 food industry trade associations have written the White House, the Secretary of Agriculture, or the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration since Oct. 28 expressing concern about the dioxin issue. EPA’s conclusions are important to the food industry because the federal government estimates that more than 95 percent of the dioxins in people’s bodies result from their dietary intake of animal fats.

In a December 7 letter to Melody Barnes, assistant to the president for domestic policy, the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group, which includes the National Chicken Council, voiced their concerns and asked that the National Academy of Sciences be consulted to ensure EPA’s analysis is “supported by science and accepted international standards.”

The letter said the implications of a draft reference dose EPA has circulated would be “chilling.” “EPA is proposing a situation in which most U.S. agricultural products could arbitrarily be classified as unfit for consumption. The impact on agricultural production–conventional, organic, livestock/poultry/dairy, fruits, grains, and vegetables–may be significant, as will be the loss of trade markets, all without evidence of additional health protection,” the letter said.