Canada: Firm to offer more data in light of dioxin-based recall

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins Canadian food inspection agency

After dioxin levels prompted a voluntary recall effort in Canada, Absorbent Products is turning to additional testing to demonstrate how little is bioavailable, says company president.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported last week - March 21 - they were monitoring the effectiveness of a voluntary recall​ for the diatomaceous earth diatomite product when used as an inert carrier or anti-caking agent ingredient in feed.  

The regulatory agency told us at the time that it was working with Absorbent Products on the matter.

The company is subsequently conducting additional testing for its Red Lake Earth – diatomaceous earth diatomite - product using larger samples of the feed supplement, said Peter Aylen, company president. “We want to redo the testing with bigger samples so we can show CFIA that based on bioavailability our material is very low in dioxins,”​ he added.

“The recall was based on the dioxin level in the base material being over 1.5ppt which is a European standard,”​ he told FeedNavigator. “This did not consider that the dioxins are naturally occurring and are about 12-13 million years old. As a result, the dioxins are locked in the mineral matrix and are not available to the animal.”

The company said, in a statement provided to us, that previous testing has found the dioxin level in the base material was below the amount of regulatory concern.

“An Absorbent Products leachate study showed 0.0246 pptr PCDD/F TEQ (WHO 2005) as bioavailable leachate, a level below regulatory concern in the US, Canada or Europe,”​ the company said. “We are conducting additional tests to present to CFIA to confirm our previous testing.”


The Red Lake Earth product has been registered for use as an anti-caking agent since 1999 in the US. 

The regulatory agency did not require that compound feed mixed with diatomaceous earth be recalled, the company said. However, the testing done only examined the product and “did not consider the dioxins within the mineral matrix are not readily bioavailable to animals,”​ it added.  

“We are addressing the issue of using Red Lake Earth in feed, which involves the amount that is bioavailable,”​ said Aylen. “The amount of bioavailable material that is absorbed instead of excreted and whether the limits should be based on total feed or an individual ingredient will also be discussed.”

“Most of the dioxins in Red Lake Earth are not found on the surface, but are locked within the mineral matrix and are not readily available. This means that the bioavailability – the level of dioxins that would be available to an animal during the digestive process – of the dioxins is very low," ​said the company.

The product is compliant under the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current guidelines for unavoidable poisonous or deleterious substances, which addresses polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in feed ingredients, the company said.

Initial recall

The CFIA said that it had recommended that the product be recalled from the Canadian marketplace because of the dioxin level found.

However, there were several feed-related products not included in the recall, the agency said. These included complete feeds, supplements or premixes that were made with the product.

“When this product is used according to the product label, the estimated concentrations of these contaminants in complete feed are not expected to result in residues of concern in foods of animal origin nor will they be harmful to the animals consuming such feeds,”​ the agency said. “The objective of this recall is to prevent further exposure in livestock, humans and the environment.”​  

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